Authors: Steven R. Burke
Steven R. Burke
Copyright © 2010, 2012
by Steven R. Burke
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or
mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without
permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who
may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
Steven R. Burke
Visit my website at
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: December 2010
my loving wife Debbie and my number one son Taylor
Table of Contents
early morning sun was streaming through the golden leaves from the surrounding
black oak trees which are only found in the ancient Forest of Renshaw.
The morning fog was beginning to dissipate as
the inhabitants of the enchanted woodland made their presence known.
Sitting at the edge of a plush green meadow
taking in the serenity of the moment was Kishi, an elven princess.
She was sitting on the lush grass with her
legs crossed and her eyes closed breathing in her surroundings.
She always came to this same spot to meditate
so she could escape the pressures of being the eldest daughter of the great
elven king, Ciel Tiranidrol.
closed her mind to the drama that had recently consumed her life, her thoughts
strayed to the trivial meeting she was required to attend in a few hours.
Inwardly she groaned at the thought of
participating in elven politics, which her father insisted was crucial in order
to keep the kingdom united.
had lived for six centuries in the beautiful, enchanted Black Forest where she
had been able to avoid the pressures of political life until now.
She did not enjoy the restrictive nature of
being royalty, which was something that she had no control over.
However, today she was more troubled by the
secret plan of her twin sister, Kira, than her preoccupation with her own
Her sister was
highly favored by their father and the people because of her pleasant nature
and her incessant desire to please others.
This bothered Kishi because she was the eldest daughter and was the one
the kingdom rightfully belonged to after their father’s reign.
She did not think the people would allow rule
to pass to someone who was so obstinately disinterested in the good of the
Why do I even care?
I do not
need them, and it is clear that they do not want me.
eyes flew open at these troubling thoughts.
While she cleared her mind again, her gaze was drawn to a dragonfly
zooming through the grass.
mesmerized by the insect’s fluid movements, and struggled to meditate
The sun shone brightly over the
ancient black oaks, which illuminated her stationary figure with its warm
The light outlined her beautiful
black hair and slender body as she eased back into a tranquil state.
slight figure hid her physical prowess and agility.
Her real power came from her innate and
learned magical abilities.
mirthless eyes that had a chilling effect on anyone who dared to look her in
She had trained for many years
with the revered warrior warlock Dükker who had taught her everything about the
He had taught her that the
source of her power was founded in the spark of magic that every living thing
She had learned that magic
did not require incantations except in cases where one had to focus their
energies with external sources that exceeded the caster’s capacity to
Her dark mentor had also taught
her how to steal the energy of sentient beings, something forbidden by the
sacred laws of magic.
This was something
that her sister never bothered to listen to when these lessons were given.
Kishi was the only other elf aside from her
mentor who learned such powerful, dark magic.
had also learned to discipline her mind to resist magically enhanced mental intrusions.
She also became adept at reversing the effects
of an assault by reversing the direction of the attack towards the perpetrator.
Most learned the elementary version of mental
barriers where the defender mimics an animal’s thoughts, which happen to be
centered on basic needs.
gave away any insight into what they are thinking at that moment and when an
intruder is sensed, they can focus their energy to expel the foreign
Kishi had learned the difficult
process of constantly warding her mind against infiltration by using the mirror
This basically reflects the mind
of the aggressor for a few moments and immediately warns her of the
The energy required to main
this is something that is rather insignificant due to her exceptional
She was almost equal to her
mentor’s abilities in most respects.
princess had developed serious trust issues over the years as she grew in
Her father had always been wary
of what he perceived to be unnatural abilities and even suspected that his
eldest daughter dabbled in forbidden magic.
This distrust was not hidden from the king’s subjects.
This only added to the distrust the elves
held for Kishi.
This was the primary
reason she had decided to aid her sister with her secret plan for the upcoming
tranquil morning was quickly ebbing away when the sounds of forest life
Kishi’s father and his
guard appeared at the edge of the clearing opposite her.
She, of course, had already sensed their
presence with the magical web she had set up around the clearing to detect the
approach of anyone or anything that could pose a threat.
She accomplished this by invoking her will on
non-sentient beings to send her warning of the approach of any sentient creatures.
Kishi’s eyes snapped open and locked onto her
father across the meadow.
It was clear
that he had not seen her quite yet as they looked around.
King Ciel never went anywhere without his
guards these days because of the schisms that threatened to tear the elven
Their unity had endured
for nearly a thousand years under his reign and was now in serious jeopardy
thanks, in part, to his youngest daughter.
She had violated one of the most sacred elven laws, which was the most
recent source of the division amongst the people.
king finally spotted his eldest daughter meditating within the shadow of a
particularly large black oak at the opposite end of the meadow.
After he caught Kishi’s eye, he nodded and
made his way over to her.
march was thunderously loud in the silence that had come over the clearing.
another sunrise, daughter?” King Ciel asked as he smoothed the front of his
He would not look her in the
eye knowing he would only see hatred in those gray, depthless eyes.
It was no secret that she did not trust him
or even care for him.
At this point, he
was beginning to feel the same way due to her lack of empathy for the elves and
was enjoying the quiet tranquility of this serene morning when you and your
guard so rudely interrupted,” she said disdainfully.
She eyed the king’s guard with disgust.
contemptuous remark angered her father, and he was unable to hide his
displeasure from her as he looked down to where she sat.
She could feel his ire toward her growing
with each passing moment.
So he is already upset, and the meeting has
not even started yet. How delightful.
This thought brought a quick smirk to her beautiful face.
her father came to a halt in front of her, she felt the pit of her stomach knot
and turn as revulsion swept through her at his close proximity.
She knew by the look on his face that he was
extremely disappointed with her aversion to side with him or to carry out her
King Ciel had been the
ruler of the elves for millennia and had had peace during his reign until
The elves had made the
enchanted woodland of Renshaw their home for the past four thousand years and
had prospered considerably under his rule in particular.
The people adored him and loved his temperate
His singular ability to say
what people wanted to hear had only increased their devotion.
Kishi respected his powers of persuasion but
hated him for the uses to which he applied this gift.
king was a powerfully built elf that towered over the slight figure of his
eldest daughter as she sat on the long green grass.
He was a proven master with the sword, though
he was known better for his abilities as a leader.
His primarily used his magic to read and
manipulate unprotected minds whenever it suited his needs.
His daughters had learned how to protect
themselves from his unwanted intrusions.
Kishi was particularly difficult for him to read.
However, his gift had made him a superior
orator and negotiator among his people and a leader the other races of Tuwa
respected and looked to for advice.
hope that you will be in attendance today at the elven high council.
We must continue our discussion about your
brother-in-law and Kira’s treachery,” King Ciel said in an even tone.
He came close to looking her in the eyes as
So, you can publicly condemn her for
following her heart?
Do you honestly
believe that punishing her will do any good?” she asked angrily.
“You merely want to prove to the people that
you will uphold the law no matter who committed the supposed crime!
We share the same blood…
silinde turgon elanessë aldarion
Her eyes flared as though flames were about to shoot out of them.
A silvery vapor dissipated from her eyes as
she glared daggers at her father.
felt all the painful emotions she had been building walls against since the
marriage of her sister pushing for a release.
While she vehemently disagreed with Kira’s marital choice, she distained
their father’s chosen response.
torn as to which side she would take while in the council meeting.
She, of course, blamed her father for this
because of his need for
order and propriety.
Maybe I should let Kira and father fight this
Maybe it is about time I left
Renshaw. As long as I stay here, I will not have peace and I will never be
know as well as I do that my dispute with your sister is well grounded in elven
law, as well as steeped in our traditions,” the king replied smoothly.
“No elf is permitted to mix or marry with
anyone from the lesser races
Why your sister wants to bring death upon
herself is truly beyond my comprehension.”
His face was unfathomable as he looked down at Kishi.
my children vex me so?
What have I done
to justify such an obvious betrayal?
to mention how your sister’s illicit union diminishes the elven standing that
has been respected and revered by the peoples of Tuwa for centuries!
Now death will be introduced to the elven
people like never before!” King Ciel raged.
He was clearly concerned that Kira’s actions were part of something much
bigger and more sinister in nature.
could not allow the situation to get out of his control; he would do whatever
was necessary to prevent the elven nation from being ripped apart by members of
his own house.
king’s feelings were beginning to surface, and he was no longer making an
effort to hide his disappointment.
was furious with the pair of them because of their purported belief that love
and choice are factors in marriage.
This entire situation is a front for
something else; this marriage is merely a catalyst for their secret plans
If it were not for the powerful magic his
daughters possessed, he would use forceful means for finding out what they were
really hiding from him.
could not use his power on them because of their training. He simply could not
afford the backlash from the people if he chose to use other means of
discovering the truth. As such, he was left to use political means to uncover
their real intentions.
I hate to interrupt, but we really must be off.
The meeting is in about two hours, and it will take us almost that long
to get to there,” interjected one of the king’s guards.
king stood there looking down at his daughter with a much deeper understanding
of how she felt about him…inwardly his heart was breaking.
He knew that she disagreed with Kira’s
choice, and he was clearly bewildered about his eldest daughter’s stance in
He had felt that Kishi
would be on his side when Kira broke elven law, but now it was clear that she
too had betrayed him.
He sensed that she
was somehow a part of the conspiracy against him and his people.