Home > Moon-Kissed (Within the Darkness #1)

Moon-Kissed (Within the Darkness #1)
Author: Amelia Hutchins


 250 years ago

 Staring out the large window in my bedroom, peering over the kingdom, I watched as the morning sun rose. Turning back toward the room, I studied the white eyes of the seer. In her hands was the ancient tome, one that no other creature had held in a millennia.

 Long black curls flowed down her shoulders in waves, invitingly. Candlelight swayed with the wind in the room from the powerful magic she created from her soul. Watching her, I folded my arms over my chest as her eyes returned to the soft violet that promised heaven and yet delivered no comfort.

 “Your mate will be born soon,” she announced through a husky, rasp-filled tone that spoke of seduction. “She will be born into the moon-touched clan, and once you read from the tome, she will be brought to you by the power of the book. Your mate will be fire and ice. She will be beautiful and strong. Everything you crave will come to you, but only if you read from the Book of the Dead.”

 “That book is known for taking away what you want,” I argued, watching her full mouth curve into a sardonic grin. “It never gives you what you crave.” Noting the way she tensed, I hesitated.

 “Everything comes with a price,” the seer stated, her shoulders slumping before she placed the book onto the table, opening it to the page in which she wanted me to read. “All magic has a cost, and all knowledge comes from that cost. You asked me to find your true mate; after losing who you had assumed was yours already, I would think you’d want to take this chance. The universe only allows us to have one mate in a lifetime. That you have another chance at finding her if she’s reborn, well, few can find them twice. If you ignore what I have foreseen, then that is your choice. Considering who you are and what she will be born to be, I doubt your paths ever cross naturally. You are of the night, and she is of the light. She will be born of the same clan as her first birth. Would you give it all away to another man? Or will you pay the price to know her taste and to feel your cold, deadened heart beating again?” she pried, her pretty violet eyes watching me with a burning need.

 “What is the cost?” I demanded, watching the sparkle shining within her eyes.

 “I can’t tell you that. A life? A thousand lives? What do you care? You’re no saint, and the taint of lives lost won’t bother your soul. You forced a king’s hand, and he sent his daughter away where you could never find her, and she connected her life to that of another. Will you chance to lose her again? Will you risk your true mate meeting another and falling in love before you can find her?”

 “No.” I swallowed past the lump those words caused. Moving toward the seer, I watched her tense from my nearness. “How will I know my true mate when I see her?”

 “You won’t, not until it is time. Mates are tricky things, and only something unique between you will forge the bond. It could be as simple as a look or a kiss that makes you feel her within your soul. Why you would even want to find her is beyond me. Once you do, you will never feel another’s touch because your heart will only beat for her.”

 “Your mate died, and when he did, what did you feel?”

 “Nothing, which is what I prefer,” she returned icily, and I smiled, nodding. “There was freedom in knowing my husband was dead. There was also a numbness that began and has yet to stop growing in my soul.”

 “I know that numbness well. I feel nothing, nor have I for a very long time. Three hundred years ago, they sent my mate away, far beyond my grasp. I was too young to understand what it meant back then. I taste no food or wine. I take pleasure, but it is muted at best, and I never feel satisfied. I have an endless hunger to know the feeling of my mate and to experience the true pleasure of living…” I slid my fingers over the book’s pages, smoothing them out with my fingertips. “I am merely an endless night that hungers for her pleasure and to know her touch. I tire of the cold, eternal chill that aches deep into my bones. I wish to know the warmth of my mate and to feel it shining upon my face.”

 “Then read from the book and find her. Fuck the consequences,” she laughed coldly. “Read from it, and I will tell you how to find your mate.”

 I focused on the text inked across the parchment, whispering the words. I watched as the glowing letters left the pages and danced onto my fingertips that still touched the ancient tomes. More words slipped out, pulled from my throat until it forced me to finish reading all that was on the parchment. The moment the last syllable danced from my tongue, the tome closed, slamming shut.

 Spinning toward the seer, I watched her smile go colder, evil. Her eyes turned to white, and her lips moved strangely, as if someone was controlling her. “Where the mountain touches the sunlight, and the night reached between, claim your young mate when the sickness is finally seen. She will enter your life as a warrior, with fire untold and fury in her bones. Your moon-touched mate will be born in two hundred years. When the sickness begins to consume her clan, and the warriors pass through the mountain in search of a cure, retrace their footsteps, for she will follow them in search of her destiny.”

 The seer grinned at me, and a familiar expression took hold of her face, twisting her features into an evil I have searched to destroy. “One kingdom has become two. The Kingdom of Light ruled by the moon, and the Kingdom of Night ruled by you. Reading from the Book of Death has broken free a plague of darkness that will spread through both kingdoms, killing and consuming all that it touches.”

 “Did you honestly think I wouldn’t figure out who you worked for before considering your lies, Seer?” I exhaled, watching her features shift and eyes return to violet once more. “Tell your mistress I am still hunting her. Once I find her and the Book of Life, I will end her once and for all. She can bathe the world in darkness, but her time is near for what she did to my father in her rage. Tell my mother that I am coming for her head and that nothing will stop me from taking it this time.”

 “She hears all we speak and isn’t afraid of a child cursed by his own hand. You have brought this upon yourself. I suggest you find the one you thought worthy of cursing this land, bathing it in eternal night just for a taste. You have your mother’s hair and her face, but your soul is as dark as the one we took from your father before sending him to his grave.”

 “How do I reverse the curse?” I asked carefully, tone filled with ridicule.

 “To end this eternal night, and the plague of darkness, you must claim your mate and give birth to a new life. If you cannot produce a child, everything will have been for nothing, and darkness will consume both kingdoms. As there was a cost to read from the Book of Death, the same is true for the Book of Life. To counteract the curse, your mate must read from the Book of Life, the price for which will be life. Once the life price is paid, the world will be freed, and eternal night and the plague of darkness will recede.”

 I laughed coldly, shaking my head at the plan my mother had put into place. “In other words, my mate has to give me a child, and then her life will be sacrificed to the book in which she reads?”

 “The sacrifice of life is the only way to end the curse that you just placed upon the land. I warned you that there was a cost,” she hissed, and I smiled cruelly.

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