Editor’s Note: This is Preface of The Lost Prentice, an online serial novel exclusively on the Baltimore Post-Examiner. Please read the rest of the chapters. Every week we will be posting a new chapter.
A man stood in a dark, grand dining hall. The only source of light was from a roaring fire coming from inside the black granite of a massive fireplace, causing shadows to dance around the room. The floor was black as night as well but glowed from the gold of the fire. The gray walls arched high into the ceiling. A crystal chandelier hung proudly from the center of the room. Velvet red curtains were drawn shut to make sure none of the sun peeked through.
The same man slowly walked along the formal, red mahogany dining table with his fingers brushing the surface. Although there was space for over thirty guests, only the head and the seat to the right had been set.
The man himself was broad and tall with an intimidating posture. One which screamed of power. Power he took without a second’s thought. His skin was fair and was the complete opposite of his midnight hair, which had been slicked back to the nape of his neck. A small goatee the same color of his hair added to the squareness of his jaw and overall look of his face. But his eyes were the most frightening. They were normally a pale silver but his gaze had them darkening to slate.
The charcoal robe he wore gently swished around his feet, revealing small peaks at the silk red inner lining. The robe was open and underneath it were black silk pajamas. He had been preparing for the end to his evening when he had received news which had disturbed him—had frightened and angered him all at once.
“Cordelia,” said the man, his deep resonance clearly exposing his anger, “tell me this isn’t true.”
The woman in question sat at the head of the table, her hands folded on her lap. The food on her plate had remained untouched.
She was a beautiful young woman with fiery red hair which fell in waves to her hips. Her rose complexion and feline green eyes made her look just as dangerous and just as powerful as him. But even in the black floor length nightgown and even though the room belonged to her as much as it did him, she didn’t belong. There was a lightness to her. Cordelia radiated light—which had amused the man at first.
But there was no amusement now.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Ivor,” she snapped.
“You don’t? Shall I refresh your memory?” Ivor asked, in a mocking tone. “You had such a wonderful story. A Subtle born, but frustrated with never having any real power. You came to me wanting to learn. You said you wanted to learn-”
“I do want to learn-”
“Liar!” shouted Ivor, pounding a fist onto the table. He did it with such force, the candelabra nearest to their plates tipped over.
The silence was painful for Cordelia as Ivor continued to fume.
“I believed you,” he muttered. “I really thought you loved me. I really thought you desired my touch. We even have a child together!”
Ivor indeed sounded heartbroken and Cordelia took advantage of his tone. She reached out and squeezed the hand which was still curled into a fist on the table. “I do love you,” she said.
“Lies,” he growled, the malice returning. Ivor tore his hand from hers. “I should have known. I wouldn’t expect anything more from a Subtle. You can’t help yourself, it’s who you are. The light is there no matter how much you try and stifle it.”
Ivor moved behind Cordelia and began combing his fingers through her hair—a favorite pastime of his. But she knew there was no affection behind the gesture. Cordelia closed her eyes, a small tear escaping.
Her cover had been blown.
“I grew suspicious when you decided to go out. Hardly an act out of character for you. But it was the excuse you had given me which sparked my interest. You see, you were in such a hurry, you didn’t even realize where you told me you were going. The herb store. Now you could imagine my shock.” He leaned down enough to have his teeth brush against her ear. He was vibrating with anger. “Vulgars don’t use herbs,” Ivor hissed.
He quickly lifted from her and stormed over to the fire place. “So you confirmed my fears. You weren’t learning anything about Vulgar magic because you were still using yours! I know now not to expect anything more from a Subtle! But I wished I would have realized it sooner!”
When Cordelia said nothing, Ivor rushed back to the table and yanked her back by her hair. She hissed in pain.
Bending back down to her ear, he growled, “I had you followed Darling. My wife. You went right to Rosalba and Gavin! My strongest enemies! You betrayed me Cordi. And I don’t waste time with traitors!”
Although he had her by the hair, Cordi tried to show him no fear. But her heart was beating a mile a minute. “They’ll finish you. And eventually Prentice will have to chose a side. You can see it. We both can. He’ll be an amazing warrior for the Subtles,” she snarled.
“He will never fight for the Subtles!”
Ivor dragged her up by the hair and flipped her around to face him. There was a mixture of grief and anger swirling in his eyes. With his fingers still tangled in her hair, he pushed their heads together so their brows could touch. Between the two, there was an intense struggle of passion and disgust.
“Did you ever love me?” asked Ivor under his breath, his heart desperately wanting an answer. His voice was thick with emotion, his eyes swimming with it.
Cordelia pushed back a sob. “No. I could never love a Vulgar.”
Ivor cried in fury and looked deep into her feline eyes. Cordelia was finally showing signs of fear. She struggled in his hold, trapped by his stare. But there was no escape.
Cordelia stopped trying and just closed her eyes in sadness. “I love you Prentice,” were her last words. After which, her body melted as if all her bones and muscles had been removed. She was nothing but a pile of clothes, skin and hair.
Suddenly, all the windows crashed in causing curtains to fly and glass to shatter. A man and a woman dressed in white climbed through the window frames and into the hall. The woman was bawling and ran over to the pile of what used to be Cordelia Gardner. The man in white began engaging Ivor in a fist fight.
“Gavin!” shouted Ivor. “Take the amulet off and fight me like a real man!”
The man called Gavin laughed. “You’re words are as empty as your black heart.”
Ivor shouted in fury as he tried to rip off the turquoise amulet from Gavin’s wrist. Gavin reached into his pocket and pulled out a small glass vial.
“You’re wearing a Schorl, aren’t you?” asked Gavin as Ivor took a couple of steps back. “You aren’t as brave as you think.”
“You think you’ve won. But this isn’t over. It won’t be over till I have your head on my mantel. And your daughters’ heads as well.”
Gavin snarled and tossed the small vial onto the ground at Ivor’s feet. Ivor spun around swinging the bottom of his robe. The vial shattered and white smoke erupted from it, filling the room in a matter of seconds. There was a woman’s scream, a crash of glass, and the sounds of bodies colliding. A man shouted, “No!” just as all smoke suddenly cleared.
The woman in white was standing on the other side of the hall, her hair tousled and her breathing haggard. Gavin was standing near the fireplace with his nose bleeding profusely.
“He’s gone,” growled Gavin, brushing a fist underneath his nose. He smeared the blood against his olive skin and brown hair.
“Gone where?” asked the tiny woman as they crossed to each other. She had a gold tone to her skin but her hair was jet black and fell as straight as needles.
“I don’t know.” Gavin smoothed out her hair and wiped her tears with his thumbs. “Rosalba, are you alright?”
“He killed her. He killed my best friend,” she whimpered.
Gavin pulled her close as an army of people dressed in white ran through the shattered windows of the halls. The only man in a white robe stepped forward to the embracing couple. He was taller than the couple by nearly an entire head. He was thinner than a rail but he was young and healthy.
“Rosalba, Gavin. Just what the hell were you thinking?” he asked, almost tired.
A young man dressed in green jogged up to them as well, his arms and hands tainted in the same earthy color. He had sun kissed skin, a fairly pleasant face, dark brown eyes and blonde hair. “Are you two alright?” he asked, placing a green hand on Gavin’s shoulder.
Gavin nodded even as his wife sobbed. “He was going to kill Cordelia,” cried Rosalba. “We were too late Orpheus.”
The man called Orpheus tightened his lips to a purse. “Cordelia will be missed. She was an amazing Enchantress.” Rosalba nodded as he turned to the army. “Search the manor. Make sure Ivor isn’t lurking in the shadows. And make sure there aren’t any of the Sprye, waiting to attack.
The army started to move around the four of them.
“Do you have any idea where he went to?” asked Orpheus.
“How can we?” demanded Gavin. “The only person who could is a pile of nothing at our feet! Can you move Cordelia’s remains?!”
Orpheus snapped his fingers and had a couple of his men deal with the body of Cordelia when a scream called his name.
“What is it?” he demanded.
A woman walked to them with a two year old boy clutching her neck. Sprouting out of her shoulders were massive orange butterfly wings. The child’s face was buried in her neck and hair. But his auburn hair was like a beacon in her black mane. “It’s Cordelia’s son. It’s Prentice. He was hiding outside the door. He must have seen everything,” she said, stroking the child’s back.
“What do we do with him?” Rosalba asked Gavin.
“Can either of you take him?” Orpheus asked the couple and the green hand man. “He has to be around the same age as Zelda or Evie. Maybe even Owen and Odette.”
Gavin shook his head. “We can’t take him. He’ll be too influenced by our lifestyle and the style of our children. As much as we could use him, we can’t force him to chose a side. He has to chose himself.”
“So he needs to be adopted by a family who will raise him normally in a world without our drama,” declared Rosalba. “He deserves a chance to live however he wants.”
“Then so it will be,” Orpheus said, taking the child.
Rosalba pulled from Gavin and kissed the child on his head. “Good luck in life Cordelia’s son. Her Prentice.”
Almost twenty years later, Miles Hunter woke up to the screech of his alarm clock, the remnants of the dream still fresh in his mind.
to be continued…