Of Noble Chains Online - D.L. Miles

The Storm Wars

The Warden in the Gates

Prologue:

“And what’s this say, Zia?” her brother asked, holding the little girl in his lap. He pointed to the northern part of the map, near the house they now lived in. He had ditched his extra classes to spend time with her, because he knew he wouldn’t be able to see her much when he started college.

Zia pointed at the same area and said, “North Quarter!”

“Very good! How about over here?” he dragged his finger west, to a tangled mess of barren lands.

“Wild Lands!” Zia cried.

He laughed, giving her a hug as a reward, “That’s right! Now how about here?” His finger slid south, to the area she had been forbidden to go.

“South Quarter, Specter lands!” she growled and bared her teeth playfully at him, and he mimicked her.

“That’s right,” he agreed, “but Zia you know they’re not all bad, right?”

“They’re monsters,” she stated, “they’re bad!”

“No, kid,” he shook his head at her, “not all of them. Don’t think like that, okay?”

She pouted and faced the book. “Okay.”

“But for the ones that do go STRAY, the Ventori will keep you safe. Like me!”

Zia crawled around in her brother’s lap to face him, the book forgotten. He thought she looked sad, and she stared straight at him with a bit of wonder as she asked, “You won’t go without me, right? I wanna be Ventori!”

He laughed, and patted her head. “Never, kid.”

That was the moment Zia truly decided what path she wanted to follow, and it was the same as her brothers.

Chapter 1:

“It didn’t take long for the five clans to unite themselves against the darkness all those years ago. They did it to save everyone, because nobody else wanted to try. Unfortunately their bravery wasn’t enough, even battling as one didn’t save all of them.

The clans fell, but so did the darkness, and the children of the sides that remained went into hiding, immersed themselves amongst the humans, dormant for eons; until one day, the Raijin clan stood up and declared war against those who lived in the shadows. Soon the other clans joined them, all but the Neith, who chose to remain neutral.

It’s been just over a century since Havilan the Light revealed our people to the world, revealed that the nightmares are real too. Although the humans had legends, stories told through generations, they had difficulty accepting the clans help. And now the darkness is growing stronger with each passing day, awaiting their moment of glory; waiting for the opportune moment to strike, so they can take down the clans…take down all of us…”

“What about the humans?” a tiny hand rose into the chilled air, waving about to get Zia’s attention. Breena, a little blonde girl wearing a pink sundress with matching bows stared down her storyteller, along with the rest of the New Havilan Library daycare attendees. “Did we get to live?”

Zia resisted a chuckle and allowed her eyes to roll over the bookshelves a moment. An elderly couple was peering at her, listening to her story, they were probably old enough to remember when the darkness was really bad. Zia had been sure to leave out the part that the humans already knew of what lived among them; it just didn’t make the story sound as good. “The Specter’s will leave no survivors, Breena,” Zia finally said.

The girls eyes dimmed a little, as did the other children’s. The librarian, and daycare supervisor, cleared her throat, warning Zia that her tale was getting a little too mature for the kids. Zia pulled at the collar of her shirt and decided to change her answer.

“What I mean to say,” she continued, “is that as long as there are Trackers, you humans don’t have to worry about the darkness making a comeback. We’ll save your sorry—um…we’ll keep you safe.”

Another hand shot into the air; Joshua’s dirt-caked face scrutinizing her every word. “Mama says you’re a freak that should be put down just like all the Specter’s.”

Zia felt her eye twitch and forced a smile across her face. These kinds of comments from Joshua and his racist mother weren’t uncommon. She said, “Well, Joshua, your mother is an ignorant—“

“Ms. Noble!” the librarian cut Zia off before she could insult Joshua’s mother again. The ankle-length skirt swished back and forth with her hips as she came around the desk. “How many times have I told you not to insult the children’s parents?”

“Sorry Mrs. Mayfield,” Zia said, standing up from the miniature plastic chair. The woman began