Prologue

The sky was dark and full of stars. Her large wings stood out against the shadows of the mountains behind the Guardian. The purple glow surrounded her entire body, shimmering brightly. The crescent moon shone upon the shrine behind her, reflecting upon the mirrors on the roof as if it was admiring itself one more time before it went to sleep at the end of the night. Flowers bloomed where her hooves touched the ground, shining bright with prana as the rest of her body did.

It was a truly despicable sight.

I can see you, you know,” her thoughts echoed in his head. He shivered involuntarily. He heard their thoughts inside his mind so often, and yet he’d never get used to it.

“I know you can. I came to see you, Rasa,” he answered as he stepped out of the shadows. A bird chirped in the distance and he sent a spike of prana its way. A moment later he heard wings flapping into the sky. He’d been too slow.

What are you doing here, Aras? These mountains are not your home.”

“The entire Crown is my home. The entire continent is my home. More so than yours.”

Didn’t Saule ask for you this morning?” she asked, ignoring his comment.

“I’m not her lapdog, to come running whenever it pleases her,” he spat as he walked up to the Guardian with her enormous wings. He folded his own feathered wings close to his body.

She shook her head slowly. “What do you want, Aras?”

“I want to know if you’ve thought about my proposal.”

She smiled wryly. “I have.”

“And?”

Of course I won’t do it. To Guard this world and all of its living beings, we’ve all been given roles. You know what yours is. It is not better or worse than my role, or even that of Saule. And Vitalia will never change it, no matter who asks. You’re better off accepting her decision and fulfilling your role to the best of your abilities. Good night, Aras.”

Her wings moved slowly and she took off into the night sky, blending in with the stars and soon becoming one of them, leaving the Earth Guardian alone in the mountains.

This world and all of its living beings. Aras shook his head furiously as he turned around and walked back to the shadows. Saule’s earlier call still echoed in his head. He knew he had no choice but to obey, eventually. But for now the night was his, and he had more important things to consider.