Read The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey Online

Authors: Melissa Myers

Tags: #romance, #fantasy, #magic, #dark fantasy, #epic fantasy, #socercer

The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey

BOOK: The Elder Blood Chronicles Bk 1 In Shades of Grey
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In Shades of Grey

 

The Elder Blood Chronicles - Book One

 

 

 

by Melissa Myers

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013 Melissa
Myers

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or
persons living or dead, is coincidental.

 

All rights reserved, except as permitted by
U.S. Copyrights Act of 1976.

No part of this publication can be
reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form

or by any means, or stored in a database or
retrieval system

without prior written permission of the
author.

 

 

 

Map of Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

Dedications

 

To my children who have remained patient
throughout all of this.

You have considered me a good mother, even
when work often kept me from it.

 

To my mother, who has supported me on
everything I have ever put my mind to.

Thank you for helping me when everything was
so hard.

 

 

“Life cannot be defined in simple black and
white. In everything, there exists both good and evil. It is
perspective and motivation that define a thing. An action of evil
may have to occur for the greater good, while this may be viewed as
either black or white depending on perspective. It is the
motivation that makes it grey.

“Our world itself displays this. For those of
the Elder Blood who remember, it is a prison they cannot escape.
For those of us who were born here, it is a home to be protected.
For all of us, it is a battlefield. Be it by sword or word, the
wars between the Houses have raged since creation. Both the war,
and the individuals who fight in it, are far more than black and
white. With every word we speak, with every action we take, we
exist in shades of grey. It is the motivation for our actions that
define how dark of grey we are. It is a perspective that defines
what shade others see us in. There are those in this world whose
motivations are nearly white, but our perspective of them names
them outlaw.”

~Quoted from Christian Morcaillo during a
debate on Ethics at the Sanctuary Academy.

Prologue
Veir

 

 

Death sang loudly, her mournful voice
composed of the screams of the wounded and the clashing of steel.
The sound was as unwelcome as the bloody waves crashing against the
sand near his feet.
A funeral dirge for my land and people
,
Damon mused and spat blood from his mouth. It wasn’t his blood; it
belonged to the fool that was even now charging back in for another
strike at Damon. His first strike to the man had been a savage one,
which nearly severed the arm. The spray of blood had caught him
full in the face. By rights, the soldier should have dropped from
that wound alone, but battle lust had him too far in its grips.
Have I ever actually felt battle lust?
Damon wondered. His
mind was working far better than his body at this point. With a
weary sigh, he brought his sword up at the last moment and sank it
deep into the man’s chest, adding another scream to the symphony.
It was not a grand flourish, not even done in anger. It was done
simply of necessity as every other death he had dealt this morning
had been delivered. Damon was too tired for anger and had never
been the sort to show off. Wearily he pushed the man’s corpse from
his blade and barely spared the body a glance as it fell to the
sand. His eyes were already scanning his surroundings for another
fool that he would have to kill. His stretch of the coast seemed to
be blessedly free of anything moving, though. Corpses lay sprawled
in a circle around where he stood. He suppressed a snort of
disgusted laughter.
He’d been on enough battlefields to know to
avoid the man who had the circle of corpses around him. Obviously
these fools hadn’t had such learning. No doubt they all wanted the
honor of bravely killing High Lord Veirasha.
Damon shook his
head at the mere thought and his gaze rose to the ships rocking at
anchor off his coast. Undoubtedly, thousands more fools lacking
proper learning awaited there, just as eager for his head. This
first landing had merely been those too eager to keep on the ships.
A test of sorts, to see what kind of fight Veir could put up in its
current state.

He turned away from the ships. He was too
tired to contemplate how many enemies waited or how skilled they
were. He would face them as they came, for the time for strategy
was long past. To use strategy, you needed an army. While a year
ago his had been the strongest there ever was, it was no more. Now
he barely had enough men to hold this small strand of coast. The
fabled Knights of Veir were gone. All that remained was a ragged
bunch of men fighting back sickness as much as they were fighting
off the invaders.

His eyes roamed down the coast where his
youngest son was directing what remained of his men. If his son was
feeling the effects of the sickness, he wasn’t showing it. He sat
tall and proud above them from the back of a prancing black
warhorse. One of the few horses left in Veir now. He felt a pang in
his chest at the sight of his son who didn’t belong on a
battlefield. There was no doubt that Zachary could fight; he simply
belonged in a brighter place. He was more suited for tourneys than
the blood and mess of war. The year before, Zachary had been a
tourney knight and the girls had swooned at the sight of him. Damon
smiled bitterly at the memory.
Although it wasn’t often that I
left my lands, I had gone to see him ride.
Damon himself had
never been the sort for tourneys, but to see Zachary had filled him
with such pride. Zachary had taken after his mother, with strong
characteristics of charm and vibrancy that Damon himself had never
possessed, even at the boy’s young age of seventeen. His son had
come in second in the lances and had bragged over it for days.

The young man on the white horse beside
Zachary had taken first place. He couldn’t see his son’s third
companion, but his eyes fell on the huge red horse the young man
had been riding. Its body was half buried in the rising tide with
sea foam the color of rust rushing over it. He hoped the young man
hadn’t joined his horse in death. He had liked the bluff spoken
little Firym. All three of them were too young and too filled with
life for this much death. Damon gave a weary sigh and felt his
lungs clench in protest, fighting back a fit of coughing as he
watched Zachary and his remaining men finish off the last of the
invaders.

“Father,” a voice called softly from behind
him.
My other son, the stoic and practical one that is a pure
image of me at a younger age,
Damon mused. He shifted his
weight, pushed back from where he had been leaning on his sword,
and turned to regard Tyber. His son looked about as bad as he
himself felt. His skin was pale and his blue eyes were sunken.
Blood smeared across one cheek, though Damon doubted it was his
son’s blood. His normally pristine armor was covered in gore, his
tabard torn and bloody. His eyes were the worst though. They
reflected every emotion Damon himself was trying to push away.
Disgust, anger, grief, and further back at just the corners where
it could almost be ignored lurked despair. He held the reins to his
grey gelding and waited for his father to bid him to continue.
Tyber was always proper. Zachary would have blurted out whatever he
wanted to say before Damon had even turned, but Tyber waited
patiently as he always did.

Damon looked past his son to the gelding. The
creature’s head was held low, almost to the ground. His sides were
sunken, and his legs were braced in a fashion that suggested they
might buckle soon. Puss trickled down from the corner of the
animal’s eyes, and its breathing seemed labored. With
blister-filled lungs, he would soon begin bleeding from his nose
and mouth. Damon had lost his own horse days ago in the same
fashion. With the first sign of the plague being fever, a loss of
appetite was soon to follow. And soon after that, things became
truly unpleasant. It had started with the animals before it moved
to his people. Only the strongest of the beasts had survived the
first wave, but now apparently they too were succumbing.

I know, Father, he is almost done for. I wish
I could end his suffering. He deserves better. But I fear I may
need the last of his strength. We’ve just gotten word that Merro’s
men have broken through in the north. If we don’t answer, they will
win through to the capital.” Tyber’s voice was thick with grief and
came out almost choked. “I doubt he will make it too far, but
anything is better than nothing,” he added.

Damon remained silent. He was unsure how to
tell his son there was nothing in the capital to save. Word had
come this morning before the battle that his wife and daughter were
victims to the plague. Damon gritted his teeth and forced his
imagination away from the images of their bodies twisted in
sickness. He wanted to keep his last memories of them as pure as
they had been. There could be no denial though; he would have to
tell his son they were dead. He would have to tell them all that
the capital was burning. He had ordered it so himself. It had
reached the point where it was easier to move the living from the
city than it was to move the dead. He stared past his son in the
direction of his home, his former home, he corrected. By now, it
would be nothing more than ashes. How exactly did one tell his
children that their beloved mother was dead? The woman who had
nursed them at her breast, cradled them when they were upset, and
loved them so fiercely. How could he tell his two sons that their
little sister, who was not even old enough to have known a first
kiss, was dead, despite how they had always protected her? No
matter how strong they had been, no matter how large their armies,
no matter how proud their house, Veir had fallen. Slain by an enemy
they could not fight before this army had even arrived. House
Veirasha’s last survivors stood on this corpse-littered beach, with
an army twenty times their own, rocking at anchor in their harbor.
Veir was lost; there could be no denying it. Despair crept over his
mind again, and he firmly pushed it away once more. He had two
children left. He must do what he could for them.

“Father?” Tyber’s voice came again, pulling
him back from his dark line of thoughts. He looked back at the
gelding before turning his attention to his son. Damon could
remember teaching his son to ride on that horse. Tyber had spent
countless hours on the sturdy grey, training with lance and sword.
Not for tourneys of course, Tyber was his father’s son and had
never been the sort for that glamour. He and that horse had trained
for this day to come, when Veir would need protecting, if it were
ever invaded. There was no way to train for what they faced now, no
way to prepare for plague-stricken lands. Damon watched as the
animal swayed back and forth. It was so far gone, yet it refused to
give up. No matter how hard Tyber had pushed the animal during
training, it had remained as stubborn and solid as his son, never
admitting defeat and never giving up.
Sometimes we are not given
a choice on the matter though
Damon thought grimly.
What was
that saying the knights had? “A knight is nothing without his
horse.” There was also, “A knight is only as good as his
horse.”
Neither rang well on his ears at the moment. His son
was still watching him, his grief turning to concern at his
father’s long silence.

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