Prolog: A Talk with Fate
A warm, early autumn breeze whispered across the moonlit meadow. Tall grasses, untouched by civilization, murmured to one another while leaves of the nearby birches rustled in the wind. A few broke away, too weak to sustain themselves. One birch leaf danced further than its brothers and sisters. It floated pass the hunched figure of a young man knelt under the full moon.
He ignored the leaf that floated pass his haunting pale blue gaze. The eerie light of the full moon washed his withered, pallid body in a sickly glow. Long hair hung around his head like a pale golden veil. It used to shine in the sun's light like white-gold and was soft as silk, but now it was thin and withered like the rest of him.
The young man raised his head to the moon, unshed tears glistening in his haunting blue eyes. The millions of thoughts racing through his head congealed into one coherent question. "Why do you curse me with such things?"
His voice came out as a raspy whisper yet held the elegance of royalty. The young man was Prince Silas, the firstborn of Prince Bayliss—the youngest brother to the current ruling king of Frost Light. However, even though Silas held such a high title to his name, he was berated. The prince was an outcast. He was a bastard child. He was unwanted by his mother and father. He was cursed with an incurable sickness.
A disease ravaging his body since birth, but only in the past year did it show its true nature. As a boy, the prince merely tumbled more than the other children or would tremble during strenuous exercise. It never occurred to his father it was something to worry about. However, when the second moon of this year passed, havoc was released. The prince could no longer perform in battle training. He tired too quickly. His movements lost their elegant fluidity. Another moon passed, and tremors raced through his body at any attempt to lift objects that weighed more than a few pounds. Even the ability to manipulate freezing light —possessed by Mages of his royal descent — no longer obeyed him. The brilliant icy-cold light would only emerge under moments of stress, seeming to have a mind of its own.
Then, the unthinkable happened mere days ago. The horrible disease took his ability to weave magic. He was a Mage — a magic weaver — whom could no longer weave the essence that surrounded him. More specifically, he was a Essance Mage — a race of Mage able to weave magic and combine it with their own internal essence allowing them to supercharge their strange nature manipulations Mage commonly possess. Essence Mages could also draw and concentrate the magic around them and use it in battles.
Silas brushed a pallid hand over the white swirls adorning his right arm. They no longer glowed with the same brilliance as they did when he was a child. Every Mage was born with markings as a sign to tell the world they were magic weavers, albeit, only a handful of Mage races possessed ones that glowed.
It was because he lost the ability to weave magic Prince Silas was cast out. That one thought broke the floodgates.
The prince's voice rose in volume. "Born to a mother who does not want me. A father who does not love me. A stepmother who hates me. Half-siblings who despise me all because I am firstborn. Born with a body-destroying disease, which eats away at each fiber as I speak. A wife who was forced to marry me. Unable to produce a child because of my sterility. Now, she carries another man's offspring. A man she loved before the contract was signed by my father to which she was betrothed to me."
Silas squeezed his eyes shut, sucking in a sharp breath. "I can no longer have my royal life. This disease has taken my ability to weave the magic that surrounds me. I can still feel it, but the threads slip through my fingers. My birthmark, the mark all Mages — no matter the race — are born with, has nearly stopped glowing. Even in the darkness, the moon's light overcasts its glow. The mark that brands me as a Essance Mage and the mark that makes me one of the royal bloodline casts nearly no glow. I am an outcast. Never to step foot on royal ground. What am I to do with myself, Goddess of Fate? What am I to do with myself? Are you not the one who condemned me to this life?"
Silas sat back, spreading his arms to the dark blue, starlit sky. "Is it because of what I am? Because of who I am?" he yelled, voice echoing silence in the warm early autumn air. No creature dared to stir, frozen under the young man's proclamation.
The broken prince fell forward and clenched the grass beneath him, breath coming out in ragged gasps. Silas attempted to stop the tears threatening to spill. He was royalty. He was a prince — firstborn of Prince Bayliss and son of Kiri, a renowned warrior. He was supposed to be stronger.
"Do you want me to end it? Am I an abomination to you as I am to my father? I am useless. What do you wish me to do Goddess of Fate and Life? What do you wish for me to do?" He squeezed his eyes shut, fearful of the tears that might fall.
A flicker of cold withdrew him from his despair. He relaxed his clenched fists to stare down at the brilliant white light dancing along his pale fingertips. Frost clung to the blades of grass nearest the chilling light. Seconds later, they crumbled into frozen shards. Another reason Silas was cast out. The manipulation of freezing light was deadly. Living creatures could be frozen solid in a matter of seconds and shattered with a touch. Without control over it, Silas was a danger to everyone.
The prince sucked in a deep breath. His heart hammered against his chest, and his limbs quaked. He needed to calm himself. If he did not, the entire meadow would be frosted over and most of the life destroyed. With another deep breath, the prince calmed his turmoil of emotions. Seconds more passed before he could push the feelings down and extinguish the pale blue glowing upon his palms and fingertips.
Calmed, Silas laid on his stomach. He closed his eyes, letting his mind dissolve into nothingness. If he wanted answers from Fate herself, he would need to empty his mind of everything. It was said she needed a clear foothold in the mind to communicate with a person. That is if the chaotic goddess felt inclined to do so.
"Silas…" a sweet motherly voice whispered. "Silas…"
The prince groaned, haunting blue eyes peeling open to search for the owner of the melodic voice. However, the moment he pushed himself off the ground he noticed something different. His strength was back. He no longer trembled. The once warm autumn meadow had also changed. It now appeared as if winter had fallen upon it. Every blade of grass, every leaf, every nook and cranny was covered in frost.
Silas struggled to his feet, not use to his new strength, the strength he barely remembered from his childhood. He gazed about the frozen meadow in awe. As he tucked a strand of hair behind his ear, he noticed the long, pale golden locks were soft as silk once more. He pulled back a strand in surprise, staring at it as it shimmered in the moon's light.
"Fate?" the young prince called as he dropped the lock of hair. "Are you the cause of this or is this some wishful fantasy of mine?"
Feeling a presence behind him, he turned to the low hanging moon. There, a beautiful woman knelt in the grass under its ethereal glow. A soft smile played on her lips, and a giggle passed them. It was the same as the voice that had called to him: sweet, warm, sing-song like the voice of a mother. A chilly wind curled around her, whispering through her pale golden hair that cascaded down her back, just like the young prince's hair. She even bore the same pale blue gaze and ivory skin.
"Yes, my dear child." The woman stood, another sweet giggle escaping her lips. Her white silken robes, accented with gold, fell in voluminous folds around her, concealing her slim figure. She approached the prince, smile still playing on her lips. The goddess brushed away blades of grass that clung to his long golden hair. Her pale blue gaze, just as haunting as the prince's, drifted away from his face. Her light, slender fingers trailed down his right arm, gracing the glowing white swirls that adorned his skin.
"Your child?" Silas repeated her words, brows furrowed. "I…" he shook her head, mind muddled. "I am not your child."
"Oh, but you are, dear child of mine." A soft giggle escaped her lips as she drew away. "Dear, Silas. I do not mean by blood. I am your mother by spirit. By essence." She pressed her hand against his chest, her smile growing wider. "I did mark you."
The mystical woman laughed louder than her numerous giggles. It was a joyful sound that could bring birds to sing and deer to prance. Like the sound of tinkling bells. "The disease you possess. That is my mark."
"What?" Silas repeated. "What? You did this! Why? Why would you do this to me? You ruined my life!" The prince stepped back, fists clenched as a glowing blue light enveloped them.
"Now, now, my child, don't get moody with me. I am Goddess of Fate. I could end your life with a snap of my fingers if I wished. I have my reasons for letting this happen." She pushed him, the prince falling onto his back. He lay there, staring up at the goddess as the light from his hands diminished.
She seated herself under the moon once more. "I need some entertainment, and the broken are always the most fun to watch. I want you, dear Silas, to bring the darkness into the light, but be careful, for shadows can be dangerous. I will guide you to the most favorable candidates, and I want you to keep them from drowning. So, will you help me, Prince Silas?"
"I…" Silas shook his head in disbelief, long white-blonde hair falling over his face. A soft, bitter laugh escaped his throat. "I must be going crazy. The disease has reached my mind. The Goddess of Fate is talking to me. She wants me to play in one of her wretched games." He looked up, peering at the woman through the veil of hair. "Why me? I am useless in this body. How can I help anyone in distress in my state? Surely there is someone better for your game."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that." Fate reached out, brushing her hand across Silas's right hand. "This disease that I have marked you and the experiences involved allows you to understand what these broken people may be suffering. And you were raised a prince. You know how to speak to people and gather them to your purpose, do you not? You are better than your half-siblings, and it is one of many reasons why they envy you."
Silas scoffed. "They do not envy me. They hate me. I took my father's position from them, and I am a bastard child."
Fate hummed. "Nonetheless, will you take my offer?"
"I-I…" Silas shook his head once more. The young man stood silent for a long moment as he contemplated the offer. He had nothing to lose. He had been kicked out of his tiny kingdom days ago, his family did not care for him. No one did. "Yes."
"Good." Fate pressed her slender hand to Silas's cheek. "Oh, and Silas." She leaned in, stroking his cheek as a mother would to her child. "I know your half-siblings will learn to love you and both your parents care for you. Duty shrouds them. Please remember that." The goddess then planted a kiss on his forehead.
A burst of warmth blossomed from the site of the kiss, only for everything to turn icy cold. Silas's world crumbled around him. Fate faded into a golden mist as everything gave way. Swallowing back a scream, Silas squeezed his eyes shut. A second later, they snapped open to reveal him in the same place he had laid down to rest. He had fallen asleep. It was a dream.
The prince sucked in a sharp breath. He attempted to stand, only to fall back to his knees. A headache pounded between his eyes and the starry sky swirled around him. Silas groaned, gritted his teeth, and screwed his eyes shut.
Several minutes passed before he finally opened his eyes. The prince gazed at the glowing, full moon, pale blue eyes silently searching it for answers. With a sigh of resignation, he stood up, absently brushing away the dirt and plants that clung to him. With a deep breath of the warm, night air, he felt a renewed sense of purpose stir within his ravaged body. He would help the voice lingering in his head. He would help the Goddess of Fate with her newest game.