Burnt Tree and the World in Ruin – Prologue

Tiyo didn’t remember much of the great war between people and the kilyans of the fae. As if a fog had covered his senses, dangerous and blinding, but at the same time sensual and inviting. At least he imagined it like that, he wanted it. He wanted to disappear when the fae were killing his friends, his brothers. He didn’t want to watch as the ones he grew up with fall under blows of the cruel shee. He tried to use his sword, but he was too young to do it properly. He shouldn’t even be here, no one should be. He was another boy used as cannon fodder, another insignificant young life, a thread cut too early. The kilyan mages didn’t even have to enter the battlefield to sweep their enemies from the face of the earth with spells that his people could not even dream of. Tiyo could only try to not be brutally killed.

The battle he took part in was particulary vicious. The King of kilyans threw huge khritars at the humans, an enormous carnivorous monsters with crystal teeth. The beasts tore apart their victims with bony claws, bloodstained double jaws, and with teeth that resembled diamonds. Fae made sure they were eternally hungry for human flesh. It caused more fear and kilyans loved when humans feared them.

Tiyo was twelve at the time, but his face was covered with blood and tears flowed from his eyes. Fear or regret, anger or despair, did it matter? Where were the saru of the fae who protected them from their demonic brothers? Where are the good beings who promised them peace and kept the Dark Folk on a leash?

Sobbing from fear, he threw his useless sword on the ground and reached up to smear tears with his hands. The fae passed him by, aiming at the adult men whose screams pierced the thick air. Tiyo wondered why he didn’t attack him too.

A tall fae warrior covered in fog passed by, pausing only to look at Tiyo with an amused scorn. This made Tiyo angry. Why they don’t attack him? It was as if he was so easy to remove that removal was not necessary. The birds of prey above in the sky already circled the air and their eyes were following not only the dead men on the battlefield but also the boy.

“FIGHT, COWARD!!” he heard a yell at his right. A human soldier, covered in the blue blood of the fae held a sword dripping with the fluid that once ran through kilyan veins. Tiyo wanted to spark a hatred in himself, for everything the shee represented, but what was happening here was just sad. Humans had no chance to win and even burning hatred for kilyan kind couldn’t changed the facts that they all were lost before the war has started.

Tiyo tried to pick up his sword and fight as the stranger urged him. Don’t be a failure. Do something. But his hands suddenly went numb, the strange fog intensified and hit him with a waft of scenty air, the boy almost fell on his knees, but then he felt it.

A spell in his side. There was no blood, just a feeling of drilling and pain. He looked slowly, helplessly, ahead, spotting the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Faint, almost transparent eyes looked at him coldly. It’s long white hair moved in the wind, and his long face, characteristic to kilyans, didn’t express the rage that usually accompanied the battle between sworn enemies. It was an idle face, indifferent, with no resentment to it, but showing so much contempt in its eyes that Tiyo shivered. The penetrating spell continued to roll into his body, a moan escaped his throat, silent, insipid, despite the unbearable pain. Fae approached Tiyo slowly, and a spear appeared in his hand with slender fingers. Tiyo thought it was more beautiful than the shee who held it.

Kilyan, silent, beautiful and indifferent, stood in the middle of the battlefield, unconcerned, as if he was invincible. He slowly lifted the spear. Tiyo eventually fell to the blood-soaked earth. It smelled of iron, but also the strange scent of grass that the fae’s blood gave. There was not even grass here, he thought suddenly, feeling that he was going to pass out soon, numb with pain.The kritharas trampled the ground, the soil stained with blood of the fighting armies, there was no life here.

He waited for the blow. Kilyan elicited some sounds in his delicate tongue that sounded like liquid sleep. Tiyo didn’t want to fight anymore. He had enough, enough of his father, who told him to fight; of the fae, of King Robhar, who thought he could fight magic. Kill me and take this pain away. The boy curled up in a fetal position, wishing everything around him would end.

Then he felt a terrifying cold. Death. Kilyan hit me, and I’m so bemused that I didn’t even notice. But after a few seconds, Tiyo realized that he isn’t dying, he still breaths. The white-haired fae began to speak to someone, quickly, in a fuss. In response, he obtained a murmur that might well belong to a man or a raging storm. There was a primordial power in it that scared the boy more than the fight, more than the blood around him.

‘Us’slu man’ki sarra’l’, this time, a soft voice rang over his shaky body. Tiyo was afraid to look, fearing to see the owner of the voice. He felt that there was cold evil in the fae, petrified cruelty.

The boy didn’t understand what the shee said, but suddenly his body became warm, replacing the paralyzing cold. The boy dared to lift his eyes, but he saw only two hazy spots: bright, certainly belonging to the white-haired kilyan, dressed in white robes. The second one was completely black. The picture in front of his eyes began to jump, Tiyo seemed to see two black holes instead of eyes, gaping in emptiness, reminiscent of the infinite night and depth of the ocean that his father traversed on a freighter, a metal colossus that housed thousands of people. Fae didn’t use metal, only light and night. Even Kilyan’s spear was created from the pure rays of the sun.

Black eyes drilled into his soul. The black kilyan seemed to grow in his mind, reaching the height of a colossus, similar to the ship his father worked at, a soulless monument.

He closed his eyes as the black fae leaned over him. He smelled of flowers and the rain-washed ground after a storm.

‘Don’t… don’t kill me…’ Tiyo managed to say. But black fae laughed – it was not evil laughter at all, it held the promise of spring after cruel winter.

‘Human child,’ he said in his language of Sorgon. ‘You have been sent in too early.’ The tone of his voice lowered, passing into a whisper when the cold breath of the shee touched his neck. ‘But children are precious prey. You should not be here, but I will never let the oath pass before my eyes…’

Tiyo, dazed with the scent of flowers and kilyan’s soft voice, could not restrain his fatigue. They will kill him, they will kill him now…

The boy fainted, his last word was ‘please’.

‘You’re pleading?’ amusement rang in fae’s voice. “I am here to fulfill your plea.’

But Tiyo didn’t hear him anymore. The battle lasted, the fae eliminated people at a bone-chilling rate, but he laid still as if surrounded by a protective bubble. He slept like a child he was.

He slept without dreams, while the empire of the people was overcame by the shee forces.

Above the battlefield, now deserted, snow fell, thick and freezing. Snow, which has always prevailed in the land of kilyans. The fae kingdom took over the human’s and even the weather testified. Someone carried Tiyo, someone with eyes black as coal and black hair, like raven’s feathers.