Prologue

The darkening sky screamed a shattering battle cry as it commanded the rain to strike the ground and wage war upon the earth. Water flowed through the streets transforming the dirt roads into puddles of mud that rose up to cling onto any passing surface. Men swore at their horses as the mighty beasts struggled to rip their wagons through the sucking mud. Women hurried around their leaking homes trying to light the hearth before their husbands returned soaking and temperamental about the lack of warmth.

The clouds blotted out the rising night and not a star could be found. All eyes were downcast and focused solely on keeping warm but even the most foul man could not keep his attention from drifting when laughter broke across the alleyways.

Five children darted past one another squealing with delight when their friend would splash in a puddle and send a spray of mud raining down. Men snapped and scolded the young ones when they darted underneath the adults' feet but the children paid no mind to the crankiness of elders. As the children ran through the dirty streets illuminated by lanterns flickering in the windows muck accumulated on their tiny bodies until their clothes were forfeit and their chubby faces freckled with silt.

Irritable adults who paused to watch the children fly past only saw bright white flashes of teeth and the lively glow in their eyes. Some men smirked at the sight while others frowned with heavy hearts in remembrance of what it was like to be young and careless.

As the five infants turn out of the alleyway into a wider emptying road a small boy at the back of the group is snatched up. The others do not pause their puddle jumping even when the boy lets out a cry for aid.

"Hush now Sebastian."

At the sound of his mother's stern voice the boy grows limp in the woman's arms and allows him-self to be carried back to their shack in the alleyway. The woman carries the filthy boy at arms length to avoid getting her dress too dirty and the shoves open the door with a foot.

The beautiful young women marches her son directly to the tub in the corner of the one room hut and pauses only to strip him bare before she shoves the boy in fully. When the child's skin is raw from scrubbing and his goose bumps turn into shivers from the cold water she hauls him out and wraps him in furs from their bed.

A crackling fire spits from their hearth and the woman settles to child down in front of it as she runs her fingers through his silky black hair trying to undo the knots. The boy fidgets but when his mother snaps at him to stay still he rests his back against her in submission. Her son's eyes begin to fall closed as warmth and her soothing fingers overtake him but the tension in her voice coaxes the boy awake again.

"Sebastian, what have I told you about playing with the other children?"

The boy slumps against his mother's chest because time and time again she has told him to stay away from the others. He knows he's not supposed to talk to them but he doesn't understand why.

"You told me not to play with them."

His voice is so miserable that the woman pauses with her hands in his hair. Her heart squeezes gently and she wishes that she did not have to be so cruel but far greater things were at stake. Her son would hopefully not have to understand the dangers until he grew to be an adult and she could handle him hating her until he did.

"Do not talk to them or to their parents again. They are not your friends Sebastian."

The boy jutes out his bottom lip but he looks down at the ground instead of questioning his mother. Despite his young age he knows she loves him and he will listen to her.

When the child has dried off completely from the heat of the fire the women picks up the half sleeping boy and tucks him into their bed. As he shifts further under the furs he turns wide dark eyes to pin hers in place. His mother stills under his piercing stare.

The intensity of the four year olds gaze is far too mature for his age and sparkling intelligence gleams from beneath his onyx eyes. For a second a memory of those same eyes skitters across her mind but she banishes the image.

"Mother, could you tell me the story of the Fae?"

The women turns away from the boy to hide her sharp inhale of breath through her nose. She cannot remember how many times she's recounted the history of the Fae for her son but he is endlessly interested in hearing the tales again and again. She does not enjoy the story but for him she endures it every night.

The beautiful women only several years older than an adolescent settles next to her son and begins the account.

"Long ago when the first creatures were created to roam the earth, the Fae and the Humans were built to rule over all. For centuries they reigned together in harmony until the Humans grew too preoccupied with their own dealings to care for the creatures on earth. When the neglect grew to be too profound the Fae had to claim control and recreate the balance that was lost."

The boy was completely enraptured and his eyes were wide in awe at his mother's words even though he could probably recite the tale alongside her.

"As a reward for preserving the peace on earth and intervening where the Humans had deserted, the Fae were blessed with long life and devastating beauty. They were gifted with the power to maintain control and peace in the world that was to be passed along to their offspring. The Fae were made responsible for governing the world and that authority was stripped from the Humans."

Concern blossoms in the child's dark eyes and something slithers through his irises. His mother pauses speaking for a second to watch that tendril of light flit in and out of his gaze. When he blinks at her confused at why she stopped talking the luminescence disappears completely leaving only black in its wake. She had seen that happen a few times recently and it was beginning to concern her. It should not have been manifesting so early.

"Mother?"

The woman shakes her head to rid the thoughts plaguing her and begins speaking again.

"The Humans had rebelled against their loss of power at first but with the new gifts of the Fae they did not stand a chance at victory. It was six of the most powerful Fae bloodlines that ended the Human rebellion and they are the same bloodlines that rule over us to this day. The family Mercier was the one to split the chosen continent into six territories for the Fae families to rule over the minor Fae and the Humans. In the center of the continent the Lethian family sliced out a small circle of land surrounded by the Fae territories and gave it to the Humans. Imagine it as a six spoke wheel, my love. There are six borders separating the Fae families and the royal Fae family that a human belongs to depends on where that human lives within the borders. Now do you remember the names of all six bloodlines?"

The boy nods his head, eager to prove his knowledge.

"There's Lethian, Caverly, Black, Faye, Mercier and Sayre."

His mother nods in approval.

"Yes and together the circle of lands is called the Seieratova continent."

"Mother?" The boy asks with a wide yawn. His dark eyes were beginning to droop closed. "Do you think I'll ever get to meet a Fae?"

It took so long for the woman to respond to her son that sleep overcame him and his chest rose and fell with deep restful breaths.

"I hope not."