Stepping onto Athare was easy compared to what they’d dealt with on Kalinia. At the same time they were all wishing there was some way back to the world they’d left behind, even though they knew it was dying. The magic that had kept it alive was almost gone, and they should have realised before the damage they were doing could never be fixed, but it was simpler to pretend that everything was going to be fine. Garth held hands with his two youngest sisters, their only option to move on with their lives, no matter how much they wanted to go back, staring at the door that the fae were still streaming through.
“What do we do now?” Neve asked, sounding as though she was seconds away from bursting into tears.
Garth squeezed her hand. “Find somewhere to live.”
There was only the three of them left. It would have been five, but their father had decided to stay on Kalinia, wanting to stay with his wife. Very few of the fae had done anything so sentimental, because most handfastings were alliances made between families rather than a love match, they way it was between Garth’s father and mother. Some deaths had meant an unexpected freedom for those trapped in unhappy relationships. After a long conversation their eldest sister had chosen to stay in order to look after their father. Both hoped she might be able to travel to Athare at a later date, even though it seemed unlikely she’d have enough magic to create a door, as Queen Mab wanted the door they were using closed. She didn’t want to have to deal with any reminders of the mistakes she’d made.
In a move that made many wonder how the forced emigration was affecting the Queen she’d offered the chance for all the other sects to travel with them, the same way Princess Willow had before she left for Earth. Garth watched as people he recognised stepped through the door, onto their new world, and others he didn’t, wondering what they were thinking. His favourite cousin joined them. A hand rested on his shoulder and he was grateful for the support. As the eldest of his father’s children he would have to step into a position he never imagined would be his, but that wasn’t unusual. The fading of Kalinia had affected every family, in one way or another, and it was something they were all going to have to learn to live with.
“The Queen’s called for a meeting of the elders at sunset in three days time,” Yuki said. “She wants to give us time to begin building a settlement, although she’s asked for us to use as little magic as possible, and decide within our families what our next step, as a race, should be.”
“Does Irina still think our only option is to build new worlds?” Garth asked, remembering the meeting they’d had before they left Kalinia behind.
“Yes, and I agree with her. The Blues will back us up.”
“The only reason they’ll back us up is because they want to experiment with their abilities.” Garth shook his head. “I know that Irina wants us to see what we can do with our magic too, but honestly… I’m worried that she’s seeing it as our only option for selfish reasons.”
“For a while I was worried about the same thing, until I actually sat and thought about what her reasons might be for suggesting the idea. Her great-grandfather was one of the original elders and in less than a year the job has passed to her, because they didn’t want to accept that Princess Willow was talking sense when she said it was past time for the fae to leave Kalinia behind, and instead wanted to wait until things started fixing themselves. Even though it was obvious that things weren’t going to fix themselves.” Yuki sighed. “All Irina wants to do is make sure that we aren’t in that position again, and I honestly do think that, right now, our only option is to create a number of worlds that will allow us to gather the magic that we need in order to survive.”
“Will it work?” Eilwen asked, and Garth couldn’t stop the surge of pride he felt that his sister was asking what he thought were the right questions, the same questions he had asked himself when the idea had first been mentioned.
“No one knows for certain,” he replied. “We only have theories, Eilwen, and they were created during a time when we were dealing with the biggest crisis we’ve lived though. The reason Princess Willow took her fae to Earth was because she believed that humans have their own innate magic that will mean that the world will never lose all of it’s magic.”
“Here we’re, as far as we know, the only race on this world, and we have no idea how much magic Athare has within it’s core. There may be enough to keep us going for millennia or we might be able to drain the world in a century.” Yuki sighed. “The problem with our race is that we have no idea how to live without magic. If we learnt how to build and farm then maybe we’d have a chance to live on Athare without needing to do something as drastic as creating new worlds.”
“Unfortunately that isn’t something I can see us doing,” Garth continued. The crisis on Kalinia had made him view his race in a very different way, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to be fae any longer, but there wasn’t anything he could do to change who he was. “We do need to make sure we won’t destroy Athare in the same way we destroyed Kalinia, because moving from world to world as we drain them doesn’t make sense, and the Princess did seem certain that having another race on the world would help a lot.” He ran a hand through his hair as he thought.
“Logically it means we could solve the problem by creating more races to live here with us, but we couldn’t be sure they’d work in the same way humans do on Earth.”
“No matter what we do we’re going to be guessing, Eilwen, because we don’t know enough about our own magic.” Yuki said, sounding as unsure as Garth felt. “Before there was really very little reason to study why we had the abilities we did and how they worked.”
“Instead we became obsessed with having the right powers.” Garth shook his head. “I don’t think Father would have made you marry anyone you didn’t like, the way his father didn’t, but I’m certain all the girls in the family would have been given a list of suitable mates to chose from. Father was talking to me about possible brides before the world ended, and he mentioned that he would have liked an alliance between our family and the Blacks.”
“Why?” Yuki sounded as disbelieving as Garth had when his father had mentioned it. “We’ve always been enemies.”
“Father had two reasons. He thought our powers would work well together and due to the Black family’s long term alliance with the family of Queen Mab he believed we might be able to get closer to the current royal family. She still had thirty years left on the throne, which is more than enough time for us to benefit from a closer connection, but I’m glad that’s not something I’m going to have to think about for a while now.” Garth sighed. “Instead we need to focus on surviving.”
“Have we really always been enemies with the Black family?” Eilwen asked, making him smile.
“No, because originally it was our family, the Blacks, and the Browns who split off from the sect we were once a part of.” Garth thought for a moment as he tried to work out how to best explain things to his sister. “At the time they were working together to get something done, before we had the family names we do now, because they didn’t believe the King who was ruling Kalinia at the time was making the right decisions. It was very early in our history…” Trailing off he wondered if it really was that early in their history, because there were large gaps in what they knew. “I’ll be honest with you, Eilwen. We don’t know much about our history before King Jonas was on the throne, because there’s nothing written and no stories told about it, so it’s very early in our known history that the Thirteen Families first became something more than an idea.”
“Why don’t we know anything?”
“There are those who say the books were lost to protect us from ourselves,” Yuki replied. “I think it’s more likely that we destroyed another world the same way we did Kalinia and they just didn’t want to think about what had happened, which is something we’ll have to make sure doesn’t happen on Athare.”
“Easier said than done, Yuki,” Garth said. “As a race we’re very good at burying our heads in the sand if we don’t want to think about something.”
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