unspeller hand

The Unspeller: Queen of the Dead
Chapter One

        The horses stepped through the snow, their heads down in the wind. The steel gray sky hid the sun, the cold smothering its rays. Aesa had journeyed through snow-covered villages and woods for the past two days, and all of it was beautiful. It was also frigid, cruel and unpleasant for traveling.

The cold wind whipped the frozen snow across his face, beneath his hood and scarf. His stomach growled and he knew his sister Dalynara and his brother, Jasper were hungry, too. Of course, they did not have to travel in this primitive manner. If they wanted, they could step through a Gate and by magic, find themselves at their destination. They suffered the winter journey only because Aesa could not travel through Gates, a peculiar condition of his magic gift that still irked him, especially now.

For most of his fifteen years, there had been no sign that he had magic at all. Everyone had begun to speculate that he was a sign of the End of magic, that dreaded time foretold by the Arkenian oracle.

All the rumors that Aesa could be an omen of the End finally ceased after he found his magic. Unfortunately, he discovered that being the powerful Unspeller also meant that although he wasn’t a sign of the End, he was destined to become the one who would bring it. He had no idea how he was supposed to do that, and more importantly, he had no intention of being the destroyer of Tuatha’s enchantments.

“I think we are close to the sea,” Dalynara said, her vague blue eyes searching the distance from beneath her hood. She was a bundle of blankets, boots and her black cloak, her blonde hair escaping in wisps. Her voice held no emotion for the end of their travels. She hadn’t wept for a few days, which Aesa found promising, but she didn’t smile, either. Her Spirit Guardian had been vanquished deep into the Dead Realm after the battle with the oracle, and the loss had shattered her. Once a powerful Spirit Wizard who walked the Dead Realm, now she could do little more than the rest of them, casting a few spells.

Without her guide, she dare not enter the Dead Realm.

Jasper rode with careless ease, his long hair blowing around his shoulders in the wind and his cloak askew rather than wrapped tightly around him. He kept one gloved hand on the reins resting on the saddle, and the other absently on the dagger at his hip. Such ancient weapons were useless in battle on Tuatha, but Jasper had an affinity for them.

“Just over the next few hills, I think,” Jasper said, his green eyes searching the snowy landscape.

“What if Prince Niko doesn’t come?” Aesa asked.
Dalynara stirred, her eyes becoming clearer as if she were returning from some distant place in her thoughts. “He’ll come. Meeting an Unspeller is too great an honor to miss.”

“I have no idea what I’m doing. I could offend them,” Aesa said.

Jasper lifted his dagger from his hilt, flipping it in his hand. “No one wants to start a war with the Unspeller, no matter how offensive you are. They are all certain it will be the End of magic.”

“I am not going to end magic.”

“You discovered how to defeat Laeron…and the Oracle. At the same time.”

“I’m not as strong as you think I am,” Aesa replied in a low voice.

Jasper shook his head at him. “You cannot afford to believe you are weak.”

Dalynara agreed. “It’s true. We cannot protect you from all of Tuatha. But you can, if you aren’t crippling himself. There is no protection from that.”

“I’m not crippling myself,” he said, irritated.

The wind blew Jasper’s cloak off one of his shoulders but he ignored it, leaning closer to Aesa. “I’m just trying to remind you that we might know something you don’t. And what we know is that most of the time the difference between a gray-cloaked novice and a black-cloaked mage is simply confidence. You just have to become who you were meant to be.”

Aesa shifted his feet in the stirrups, not entirely convinced. “I’ll try.”

A gust of wind blew and Jasper’s cloak fell back against his throat. He moved a hand to adjust it and his eyes went wide. He remained frozen, his hand on the cloak for a few moments.

Dalynara looked over at Aesa. They both knew that Jasper was seeing something they couldn’t. He had Future Tell, a gift that required no spells. It ranged from revealing moments to years. In battle it made him superior because he always knew what his opponents would do next.

At last Jasper blinked, though he didn’t move to pull his cloak right. Instead, he unclasped it and let it fall off.

“What did you see?” Dalynara asked.

He stared back at Aesa. “I’d rather not say if you don’t mind. Give me your cloak, Aesa. You can have mine.”

To Be Continued.