Tuesday Teaser: Vynasha

Since I’ve started doing more actual book blogging and hosting on my blog, I thought I’d start sharing my teasers on here. Every Tuesday I’ll share with y’all a little slice of my latest project. 🙂 Today is Vynasha. Revisions are kickin’ me arse, but I’m trucking through! Here’s some of the latest 🙂

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They sat in equally highbacked chairs before the warm fire, framed by trophies of conquered dragons and beasts and tapestries watching from above. Vynasha’s brow creased the longer she looked into the flames. And for once the Prince did not assault her with endless questions, content in the silence it would seem. Flame wreathed logs split and popped, spitting sparks against stone. No voices graced the distant wind beyond the dining hall tonight.

In their absence, she found the courage to speak her mind. “Prince, you ask me so much of myself. But once you said your memory was filled with more knowledge than the most ancient tomes.”

“Something of the sort,” he replied with a reverberating chuckle. “You may ask anything of me, Beauty.”

“When you were young,” she began tentatively, afraid to look anywhere past the claws on his hand, “were there very many others of your kind?”

“Others?” He shifted in his seat and his silver fur gleamed in the golden light. “I suppose so, though my folk came from peaks much farther than you can see from any direction in these mountains. Yet I wonder your meaning, dear Beauty. Why are you so curious of my origins?”

Lowering her brow, she let her heavy dark curls curtain her face. “I have seen many things since I came here, things that should not be, things I’ve only heard of in books, songs and legends. And there are pictures all over these walls of things I know shouldn’t be. But you are here and I have wondered why you are alone. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the people and beasts I see on these walls aren’t as alive as you, somewhere.”

For a long moment the Prince was silent. His reply was heavy, with the sort of weight that makes it difficult to breathe let alone speak.

“Once these mountains belonged to many peoples, before the Blood Wars, before man came.”

She peeked up at him and pushed her thick locks aside with her fingers, tucking them behind her ear. His beastly features were drawn, distance and a strange gleam captured in his partially hidden face.

“In the beginning the peoples managed to live in peace, but as time passed, man became covetous of the power the old ones held. Their greed bled into hatred, until the peoples fled higher into the mountains, away from the valleys and into places man dared not follow. In time many of the old ones came to hate man in turn.”

Old legends talked of the curse that had befallen Vynasha’s own family. It was said the Wylder Mountains were cursed and all of the families who dared to live along the forest’s borders disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again, their farms abandoned. Eventually her family had been the only ones to remain. Old Ced had never told her the tale, but her Ceddrych claimed their grandfather was to blame for the ruin of their family. As one of nine great north lords their family had ruled from a fortress until their grandfather went mad and the forest swallowed it whole. Old Ced tried to make a new name for the family in trade, but they had never amounted to much in Whistleande.

Vynasha never really considered the curse, but listening to the Prince’s stories made her wonder whether it had indeed followed their family down to the present. So many deaths and illnesses and loss…

“What happened to the people who came here with you, then?” she asked in a strained voice, smaller than she intended. “Why are you the only one and why is the castle so empty?”

The Prince’s gaze hardened and narrowed as he answered in a low growl, “They’re gone. They chose their fates as I chose mine.”

A pregnant pause followed, filled by thoughts too dark and brooding to be spoken aloud, she felt. Because she understood then, sympathy riddled through her veins, that this Prince was just as lonely as her.

“It is late my Beauty,” he said at last. “Remember as you return to your chambers not to pay mind to the howls of the beasts dwelling below. None of them dare haunt these levels of the castle. Your room is safe, but do not stray from it.” A rare flash of something akin to fear clouded his words. “As you have learned, there are others like me in these mountains. So too are there creatures not even I understand that haunt my domain. You would do well to heed my warning.”

She frowned, thinking of locked rooms, the enchantress’ journal and the prison that surrounded them. Now that she and Ceddrych were the last of their family, she wondered whether the curse would take them too, and if so, whether this place was meant to become her tomb.

“Prince, when can I go outside the castle walls again?”

He turned a curious eye to her as they stood side by side, like a mountain towering over a tree. That she had been considered among the tallest of her own people made her smile now.

“Perhaps after the storms cease,” he murmured. “I shall think of this. But for now, I will bid you goodnight, fair Beauty.” And then, almost as an afterthought he intoned, “Beauty, will you marry me?”

She sighed and walked over to the door that would lead to her chambers and whispered, “No….”

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