Book 3 Chapter 10

TsuYa stormed through the curtain of leaves like a tempest, the branches swaying away as he pressed through them. The weight of the stone was slight in his balled fist. Almost non-existent.

What’s wrong? You wouldn’t know, would you, SoYa!

His feet carried him away from the calls of his brother and father, eventually past the tree line of the forest. TsuYa stopped when he found himself standing on the edge of the island itself. With a broken breath, he stepped closer, looking down at the dark clouds below for a dizzying moment.

Of course you wouldn’t know. You were always the one who would be given everything.

A sneer crossed his face, the Mark on his cheek seeming more pronounced for a moment.

And now you’re the powerful one. The great mindmage, like Dad.

The darkness below wavered, stretching down into the dead lands. The tops of the clouds churned and boiled as streaks of violet lightning crackled and chased the edges of their forms.

And me? I’m just the one who screwed everything up.

TsuYa shifted his weight, back from the edge, though his dark eyes still followed the motion of the storm. Something inside of his chest felt like it would burst. The pain that he always felt when he thought back to the folly of his choices back in Nefol. The Mark on his cheek shamed him constantly in the eyes of others. For all that Aur did, it could never be healed or removed.

I try so hard to be like Dad, but I’ll never be good enough, will I?

A heavy feeling draped over the back of his mind. Something dark that left his vision hazy. A quiet voice nagged him, cautioning that maybe he shouldn’t let his anger drive him to such loathing thoughts.

I bet they think it’s funny to watch me fall flat on my face over and over again!

One hand reeled, ready to hurl. The hand with the blue stone.

This isn’t a gift of honor, it’s all Zemi’s idea of a big joke!

Teeth bared. Standing on the edge of the drop. His body poised to throw the stone as far as his strength allowed. To watch it fall away, swallowed in darkness.

Why did they even bring me here?I’m nothing but a burden and danger to them.

As TsuYa stood there, inches from the drop, a soft breeze whispered past his cheek. A gentle cooling presence stroked along the Mark, tangling through his short white hair. The presence was a familiar, calming feeling, something that reminded him, unexpectedly, of a happier time in his childhood.

When Mother was alive. And Father’s eyes weren’t so sad. When wings and wars and Arweinydd were unreal.

The lazy white clouds sifted in the pale sky above, a stark contrast to the storms below. TsuYa found himself standing on the edge, somewhere in the middle of two worlds.


Though no answer came from the winds, the Apprentice was certain of the presence he felt. For some reason, thinking that the Dreigiau might have been watching, that the Patron was aware of his struggle, eased the sharpness of the pang in his chest.

TsuYa felt his arm lower, then drop next to his side. He drew his shaking hand into the safety of his pocket, placing the stone within. When his dark eyes fell back upon the storm below, no longer did he feel compelled.

What am I doing?

TsuYa shook his head slowly. A clearing of senses.

What am I thinking? I don’t hate SoYa… He’s my brother! He was the one that practically raised me!

He threaded his fingers through the short wisps of hair with a grimace. The sweat on his face stung where it seeped into the crevices of the Mark on his cheek. He ignored it.

What’s happening to me? I thought I had this beat.

Suddenly, he felt ashamed. Ashamed for how he had stormed off, leaving his father and brother to call after him. Right after his father had honored him with a gift of Arfogaeth, something that young Apprentices could only dream to have.

He’s probably furious with me. He’ll probably take the armor back, and I don’t blame him.

TsuYa’s fingers traced along the chain of the amulet around his neck.

This can’t keep happening. I’ve got to be stronger than this.

Anger now passed, a cold silence filled where fire once burned. His thoughts tumbled over and around each other. Thoughts of his family and the loss of his home.

Of the Islands and of Zemi, the Patron he served. Zazo, the Arweinydd who had taken an interest in annoying him. Then of Zeromus, the Arweinydd who yearned to pull his soul into darkness.

Of the war. Of LuShi, the boy Sygnus who stood in the middle of it all.

TsuYa had taken the boy as his unofficial student, despite the disapproval of others, including his father. He never fully understood that choice. He just felt that it was the right thing to do, that even LuShi deserved a chance to be something more than what everyone told him he was.

Maybe he saw a bit of himself in the boy. Maybe they were both just fighting back against time and fate as long as they could.

TsuYa sat upon the edge of the world, watching the churn and flickers below. When his thoughts finally fell silent, there was nothing but the sky above and below. That’s when he saw it, a strange liquid shift that parted the shapes of the stormclouds far beneath the Islands. It wove chaotically, bounding over the cloud caps, causing them to scatter into a rain of dark mists in every direction.


TsuYa squinted, thinking that emotion muddled his vision. The shift in the clouds remained, coming closer. The Apprentice could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise in response, coupled with a cold pressure in the back of his mind. He learned that almost always, danger followed this kind of feeling.

Suddenly, TsuYa saw many more shifts rising through the clouds. The fact that they were coming from below, from the darkness of the lands, could only mean one thing.


Dropping all forlorn thoughts, TsuYa dug one heel into the rocky edge and with a twist, ran back in the direction of the Compound. Mouth wide open, he sprang over anything that fell in his way.


Even though he wasn’t a mind mage, he knew that his brother and father could pick up on mind shouts.


No answer came from the blur of leaves and trees as he ran. Somewhere far above his head, was a spark of light. Streams of blue and gold shimmered down, fading like fireworks over the horizon. TsuYa’s heart began to thunder in his chest, his stride never breaking. He didn’t know exactly what the flashes in the sky meant, but he did know that the same thing had happened back during the first sneak attack.


TsuYa broke from the depths of the forest into open ground and hit the path at full speed. The sound of his boots crunched on the dirt, a trail of dust left in his wake. His mind frantically calculated the distance between himself and the Compound.

I’ll never get there in time!

He didn’t stop running. Even though the back of his legs burned and his chest felt like it would explode. His thoughts were on his father and brother. On those in the Compound who would be caught unaware.

A huge shadow fell down over his path, casting an eerie chill down upon the grassy hills. TsuYa looked up with an expression of dread. The shifting was straight above him, expansive and churning, blocking out the sky as the pulsation grew darker and more solid. It was only a matter of moments before the outline became apparent, the winged form of the sickly-grey Esgyll materializing from the wavering illusion.

So that’s how they get in undetected!

With a wild leap, TsuYa threw him out of the sight of the huge monster, rolling into the nearby brush. He didn’t know if he was spotted or not, but running out in the open as he was, he would be hard to miss.

I wonder why I could see them this time. I couldn’t before…

Curiosity drained from him as sky began to darken. One by one, the bulky shapes of Esgyll began to shimmer into view, sweeping down over the Islands. From a distance, the battle call of Dragons rang in the air. But they were far away, and there were many more Esgyll appearing.

The land that stretched between his hiding place and the waiting Compound seemed eternal. Though safety wasn’t promised anywhere on the Island, at least he could fight alongside of his father and brother if he was there.

My fault for running off like that… I’m such an idiot!

As the nearest shadow stretched over TsuYa’s hiding place, a chill of fear choked his breath. That’s when he realized that he was also completely unarmed.