Home > Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark #15)

Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark #15)
Author: Kresley Cole

EXCERPTED FROM

THE LIVING BOOK OF LORE . . .

The Lore

“. . . and those sentient creatures that are not human will be united in one stratum, coexisting with, yet secret from, man’s.”

• Most are immortal and can regenerate from injuries, killed only by mystical fire or beheading.

• Their eyes change with intense emotion, often to a breed-specific color.

The Sept of Sorceri

“The Sept forever seek and covet others’ powers, challenging and dueling to seize more—or, more darkly, stealing another’s sorcery. . . .”

• A breed-line broken from the enchantment caste of the House of Witches.

• One of the physically weaker species in the Lore, they used elaborate armors to protect their bodies. Eventually they held metals—and especially gold—sacred.

The Vrekeners

“Death descends on swift wings. The righteous reckoning of the Lore, they strike like a plague from the heavens, their wings blocking out the light of the sun, casting the land in shadow.”

• Mortal enemies of the Sept of Sorceri, most of whom they consider wicked and unclean.

• They live in the Air Territories, a realm consisting of floating islands, hidden above the clouds. Their royal seat is Skye Hall. They refer to their home as the Territories or simply the Skye.

The Demonarchies

“The demon dynasties are as varied as the bands of man. . . .”

• Most breeds can trace, or teleport, like vampires.

• The rage demonarchy is located in the plane of Rothkalina, ruled by King Rydstrom the Good.

The Order

“The immortal takers. Once captured by the Order, immortals do not return. . . .”

• A multinational mortal operation created to study—and exterminate—nonhumans.

• Possesses several secret holding facilities, where Loreans are imprisoned, examined, and executed.

The Accession

“And a time shall come to pass when all immortal beings in the Lore, from the Valkyrie, vampire, Lykae, and demon factions to the witches, shifters, fey, and sirens . . . must fight and destroy each other.”

• A kind of mystical checks-and-balances system for an ever-growing population of immortals.

• Two major alliances: the Pravus Rule and the Vertas League.

• Occurs every five hundred years. Or right now . . .

 

 

PROLOGUE


Deep within the Alps, mortal realm


ROUGHLY FIVE CENTURIES AGO


Crawling along a meadow on her hands and knees, Lanthe scoured the grass for berries or dandelions—anything to dull her hunger pangs as her stomach seemed to gnaw on itself.

Her older sister, Sabine—or Ai-bee, as Lanthe called her—would soon be back from the nearby human village, where she’d gone on a desperate food run. Lanthe had wanted to accompany her, but Sabine said nine was too young.

So Lanthe waited in this meadow, her favorite spot below the high mountain abbey where she lived with Sabine and her parents. A fir-tree forest surrounded the small clearing, and a placid lake reflected the sky like a mirror. Her dress hem continually danced with swaying wild-flowers.

Here, she could coax rabbits to share dandelions with her, naming the creatures and talking to them. Other times, she’d spend hours lying in the grass, gazing up at puffy white clouds to spot shapes.

But today was cloudless. Which was why she frowned when a shadow passed over the sun.

She shielded her eyes to peer upward—and saw . . . wings. Deadly wings. They belonged to a boy, one who looked as shocked as she was.

He was a Vrekener! An enemy to her kind.

As she scrambled to her feet, their eyes met. His had gone as wide as hers. They stared, right up until the moment he flew headfirst into a tree.

Spell broken, she hiked up her dress and ran for her life. Before she’d made the cover of forest, he dropped in front of her, spreading his wings.

She gasped, momentarily stunned by the sight of them. Vrekener wings were jagged—more dragon than dove—with a tapering flare at three points along the bottom. The flares farthest from the body on either side were tipped with talons. Scary talons.

She whirled around to flee in the other direction, skirting the lake. Though she was as fast as a fey, he again caught up with her, corralling her with those wings. On the inside, they were gray, with lines of light forking out all over them.

Lanthe and the boy stared at each other, his gaze flicking over her face. Whatever he saw there made him exhale a sharp breath. Puh.

No use running. And no one would ever hear her scream. Her parents were all the way up in the abbey, a pair of recluses. Would Sabine find Lanthe’s mangled body down here?

Not if I use my sorcery. At the thought, she began to tremble. Lanthe didn’t want to call on her powers. It seemed every time she did ended in disaster. But she would against a Vrekener.

Even if he was the most handsome boy she’d ever imagined.

Looking to be a year or two older than she was, he had vivid gray eyes, tanned skin, broad cheekbones, and sandy brown hair that tumbled over his forehead and around his horns. Those jutting spikes were smooth and silvery.

He had even, white teeth, with a pair of fangs! She had the mad urge to tap one of those points with the pad of her forefinger—

“I smell magics on you,” the Vrekener said, narrowing those gray eyes. “Are you a little Sorceri?”

There was no denying her species, so she raised her hands threateningly. Power easily leapt to them, swirls of dazzling blue light sparkling in her palms. “I am the Queen of Persuasion, a great and terrible sorceress,” she said in an ominous voice, even while fighting the urge to bite her fingernails. “If you come any closer to me, Vrekener, I will be forced to hurt you.”

He didn’t seem bothered whatsoever by her show of sorcery. As if she hadn’t spoken, he said, “Or maybe you’re a little lamb. From the sky, you look like one, crawling around in a white frock and eating flowers.”

She drew her head back, sputtering, “Wh-what?” Was he jesting with her?

Yes, his eyes gleamed with amusement. While she was fearing for her life—and threatening his—he acted as if he’d just stumbled upon a new playmate.

One he’d been longing for.

“What’s your name, sorceress?”

She was so startled she found herself saying, “Melanthe. Of the Deie Sorceri family.”

He sounded out her name. “Mel-anth-ee.” Then he pressed his hand over his chest. “I’m Thronos Talos, Prince of the Skye.” His tone was filled with importance.

“Never heard of you,” she said, casting a glance over her shoulder toward the abbey. If Sabine caught this boy here with Lanthe, her overprotective big sister would kill him with her fantastical powers.

Lanthe didn’t like things to be killed, not even handsome Vrekeners.

As the Queen of Illusions, Sabine could make her victims see anything she chose, changing the appearance of their surroundings. She could also reach into a person’s mind, draw forth his worst nightmare, then present it to him.

Unlike Lanthe, Sabine never hesitated to use her powers. . . .

“Is that where you live?” the Vrekener asked, interrupting her thoughts. Was he following her gaze to the mountaintop?

“No! Not at all. We live far away from here. I walk leagues to get to this meadow.”

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