Prologue: Shadow’s Memories

So, I have finally finished my first draft of my story Shadow’s Memories.  This is a very exciting moment for me.  I’ve been working on this story for about four or five years, with many side trips.  With my recent decision to focus a lot harder on my writing, I have finally cracked down and finished the first draft.  Yay, me!

However, in doing research about what agents are looking for when looking through manuscripts, they apparently hate prologues.  In doing some research, I can see why.  After all, most tend to be heavy on the back story, so most readers completely skip over them, anyway.

Since I am officially at the editing stage of my story, I decided to follow some of the advice passed down from other writers.  In looking over my prologue, I’ve realized that my story doesn’t actually need it.  Not only does it not immediately introduce the story’s conflict, but it also introduces a lot of characters and leaves you with a lot of questions, which are also suggestions of what shouldn’t be done.  However, I still absolutely love my prologue, and while it might not be absolutely necessary for my prologue to head up my story, I still feel like it says a lot about my story.

Anyway, here it is.  I hope that you enjoy it!

 

Chyanna stormed down the wide, earthen hallway and through a door in its side, only a breath away from spewing fire. She had been away from everything and everyone for a hundred years, and was so thrilled to be back with the one she loved again, finally! Yet she’d already been pulled into work, all for some stupid girl! What, in the name of the Creators, could that brat have gotten herself into this time?
The large, bright orange fox that she’d been following down the hallways led her into the library. The room wasn’t large, but Berkinley had insisted on having it built. He said it would help him develop new ways to ‘greet the guests properly’, so she had let him do as he pleased. After all, he was really the only one who ever used it, anyway; she herself hadn’t actually been down here since its creation. She preferred to let him perform his work down here himself, then report to her later.
The library was located deep under the mountain, so there were no windows, which appealed greatly to her subordinate. The room’s tall walls were decorated completely with shelves of old books, each one concentrated on some demented topic that Berkinley enjoyed reading about. In the center of the room was a heavy, oval wooden table covered with open books and various pages of paper with crude sketches on them.
She quickly looked away from Berkinley’s work, none of it being the source of her arrival. She quickly walked around the large table to get her first look at the bloody body lying on the floor. The girl was stretched oddly over the stone, her dark hair covering her face, blood splattered around where she had fallen. Clearly the damned brat had gotten herself into quite a lot of trouble. Seeing her lying on the floor like that, though, worried Chyanna. This girl may have been an arrogant pain in her ass, but that arrogance was not unfounded. There weren’t many that would, or could, fight her evenly in combat, let alone cause the kind of damage that she was staring at right then. Nor was the girl stupid, and knew better than to tangle with those who could. So, how did this happen?
Chyanna watched the tall, long haired man leaning over the girl, inspecting her wounds. He seemed to be concentrated on a large and messy incision that had been made on the girl’s right shoulder. “Is she dead?”
Berkinley remained concentrated on the wound for a few more minutes before finally looking up at her. “She’s alive, but only just.” He lifted his long, bloody fingers in the air, inspecting them as if he were appraising something of value. “The wound itself isn’t fatal, but she seems to have been poisoned. Don’t know what kind, though. Can’t be sure how much it has already spread, either, though judging from her condition I’d say it’s in full circulation.”
Chyanna was slightly impressed with his composure. He wasn’t actually close to anyone, but he had always seemed to have some interest in this girl. They were actually very similar, the two of them. Yet there he sat, as heartless as ever, as if the bloody body lying in front of him was nothing more than his most recent reading book.
“Do you think you can remove the poison? Or at least enough of it to give her time for a proper healer to get here?”
Berkinley shook his head. “It’s too far spread, and if I try, it’s likely that I would just expedite it.” He stood up then, unable to do anything else.
Looking at the wall behind him, he threw the bloody towel he was holding at a sandy haired boy standing there. “Hold this over her wound. We need to try to stop the bleeding as best we can until Brennen shows up.” The boy nodded, smiling, and shuffled to the body, clearly just as interested in the girl’s blood as his Master had been.
The boy was a very new apprentice to Berkinley, someone Lawrend had found while Chyanna and her lieutenants had been absent. She tried to remember his name, but figuring she had time for that later she turned back to Berkinley. “Brennen’s coming?”
Berkinley nodded a confirmation. “We sent Sar out for Brennen as soon as Fin left for you. Hopefully he’ll be able to come straight here.”
Chyanna nodded, staring again at the body on the floor. She always hated the idea of a Guardian coming to her mountain, but there was no better healer to be found. Pushing those emotions to the side for the moment, she turned to look at the red haired woman standing in the shadows of the far wall. “Do we know what happened yet?”
Esmeralda had been watching Chyanna since she entered the room, but she knew her place and would not interrupt prematurely. She stepped forward then, her eyes always in contact with Chyanna’s, she being one of the only people brave enough to do so. Chyanna was not discomforted easily, but having those bright hazel eyes staring straight through her was never pleasant. “Nothing yet. Berkinley says she suddenly appeared out of the shadows while he was reading, already unconscious. She must have used the very last of her magic to get here. We immediately sent for you and Brennen, then Lawrend went flying out of here with Dor to find out whatever he could. Hopefully he’ll return first, he might be able to identify the poison that was used.”
Chyanna tried not to show her irritation. Patience was not a virtue of her kind, and lazing about to wait for news did not sit well with her.
She decided to occupy herself by giving the girl her own inspection. She was still alive, but was barely breathing at all, and her skin was colder than usual. Not only that, her magic had been nearly depleted. She tried reaching into the girl’s mind to discover what had happened, but it was like walking into a large and very empty cavern. Not only were the memories of her fatal brawl gone, but all of her other lifetime memories were as well. The only thought she could find in the girl’s mind at all was, I must reach the Hunter!
Why? Why were her memories gone? What was so important that she would attempt to reach the Hunter while in this state?
Chyanna rose to her feet, no longer interested in this girl’s mind. She still had questions, true, but she was hoping that they would be answered shortly anyway. She turned to the door to see Brennen entering the little room, with Lawrend close on his heels. Good, she thought. If anyone could heal her, it would be Brennen; then this infernal waiting game could end and her questions would be answered. Brennen went straight to the body without even glancing in Chyanna’s direction. Normally such disrespect in her own palace would infuriate her, but right then she was more concerned with the boy behind him.
With short, dark hair and bright golden eyes, Lawrend’s appearance was very similar to Chyanna’s. She had trained Lawrend since he was a boy, and even though he wasn’t officially one of her Lieutenants, she trusted him more than any other. When Lawrend saw Chyanna, he easily noticed her growing impatience and jumped right into a description of his findings. She had trained him well, apparently.
“The entire kingdom has fallen, overrun by Reklans. No idea what happened to that Shield of theirs, but it’s down, and the kingdom destroyed.” He made a face of disgust, like he was remembering something quite vile. “Seems like they didn’t put up much of a fight, either. The entire area reeks of human blood. In fact, the only place I smelled any Reklan blood at all was in the throne room, which I assume was where she”, he nodded to the girl splayed out on the floor, “made her stand against them. Unfortunately, with so much blood, I’m not sure they left any one alive at all.”
Reklans? Chyanna looked back at the half-dead girl on her floor, Brennen’s giant muscled back blocking much of her from view. She could understand a little better now. As strong as this girl was, Reklans lived in colonies, and were ruthless warriors. Their bites were poison, as well, which meant that they weren’t going to be able to get any answers from this girl after all. Try as he might, not even Brennen could save her now. There was no antidote. He could try pulling the poison from her blood, but Reklan poison is persistent and is always quick to claim its victim’s life; even more quickly with those who have strong magic.
Brennen looked up then. “Well, doesn’t really matter what kind of poison it was anymore. She’s dead.”
Chyanna turned away from him, slowly pacing the length of the room. Those who worked for her remained where they stood without so much as flinching while Brennen exited the room, presumably to report the girl’s death to his sister. Chyanna didn’t care, he was no longer needed, though she certainly didn’t like the idea of his horrid sister visiting Chyanna’s home to see the girl herself. At that moment, however, she still had questions that didn’t seem to want their answers known.
She stopped in front of Lawrend. “What about the siblings?”
“Dor stayed behind to search the kingdom more thoroughly so that I could return with the report about the Reklans. If she finds any survivors, she’ll bring them straight here.”
Chyanna turned to glare at the body once again. “Search her. See if you can’t find out anything else.”
Just then another large fox, this second one more of a reddish color with some brown spots, came running into the room. Sitting politely in front of Chyanna, she reported, “I couldn’t find any survivors.”
Chyanna looked down at Dor. “No one? What about Emilia? And their Shield?”
“Of the Shield, he is still alive, but is lying in his chambers completely unconscious and guarded by Reklans. I’m not sure why they keep him there, or how they got through his defenses in the first place, but they seem to have decided to keep him alive for some reason. Of Emilia, I don’t know. I could not find her alive, but neither could I find a body. I searched as thoroughly as I could without attracting the attention of the Reklans, but as far as I can tell she is nowhere in the kingdom.”
Chyanna started to voice her complaints about this report when she was interrupted by Berkinley. She ground her teeth in irritation. The worst part about him was how much pleasure he seemed to get out of annoying her.
“Nothing on her but this box. Don’t know what’s in it, but maybe you can figure out how to open it. If she stopped to grab it before leaving the castle, then it could be important.”
Chyanna snatched the box from him. It wasn’t large, being only about the length of her hand squared, and with no special markings it seemed like just an ordinary wooden box. The really odd thing about it was that no matter how the light fell upon it, it seemed to remain bathed in shadow. She looked up at the girl’s body one last time.
What did you do?

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