Frozen Tides Page 1


35 Years Ago

The pitch-black monster reached toward the young boy with horrible, long-fingered hands, pressing him down into his bed, smothering him. It did this every night. And every night, the boy was terrified.

“No,” he whispered. “It’s not a monster, it’s just the darkness. It’s just the darkness!”

He wasn’t a baby anymore, afraid of the dark. He was nearly eight years old, and he swore to the goddess he wouldn’t cry out for his mother this time.

But this resolve lasted only a few more moments, until he couldn’t hold back his fear any longer. “Mother!” he called, and, as she always did, she came to him immediately and sat on the edge of his bed.

“My darling.” She gathered him into her arms and, clutching her tightly and feeling like a weak little fool, he let out a shuddery sob against her shoulder. “It’s all right. I’m here now.”

Light swelled as she lit the candle next to his bed. Though her beautiful face was cast in shadows, he could see anger in it, but he could tell it was not directed at him. “I’ve told them again and again to always have a candle burning in your room at night.”

“The breeze may have put it out,” he reasoned, not wanting to get any of his nursemaids in trouble.

“Perhaps.” She pressed her hand to his cheek. “Do you feel better now?”

Now with the light returned and his mother here he only felt foolish. “I’m sorry. I should have been braver.”

“Many fear the darkness, for very good reason,” she told him. “You’re not the only one who sees in it a horrible monster. But the only way to defeat the monster is . . . how?”

“By making friends with it.”

“That’s right.” She waved a hand at the lantern on the wall, lighting it with her fire magic. He watched her with awe, as he always did when she wielded elementia. She raised a brow at his reaction. “You don’t think I’m a monster, do you?”

“Of course not,” he said, shaking his head. His mother was a witch—a secret she’d shared only with him. She’d told him that some people were afraid of witches and thought them to be evil, but they were wrong. “Tell me the story again,” the boy said.

“Which one?”

“The one about the Kindred.” It was his favorite story, and it always helped him fall asleep on troubled nights.

“Very well.” She smiled as she took her son’s small hand in hers. “There were once four crystal orbs that were carefully guarded by the immortals. Each orb contained pure elemental magic—the magic that makes life itself possible. It was said that their magic could be seen swirling, endlessly, inside, and that you could feel their power when you held them in your hand. In the amber orb was fire magic. In the aquamarine, water. In the moonstone, air. And the darkest obsidian orb held earth magic. When the immortal goddesses Valoria and Cleiona fled their enemies in their world and came here to ours, they each brought with them two orbs that gave them incredible powers. Which ones did Valoria possess and protect, my darling?”

“Earth and Water.”

“And Cleiona?”

“Fire and Air.”

“Yes. But soon the goddesses were not satisfied to possess only half of the elementia each. Each wanted more, so she could rule the world without anyone else standing in her way.” Whenever his mother told these stories, she would get a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes. “Alas, this lust for power transformed these two immortals, who were once sisters, into the fiercest of enemies. They fought a great and terrible war against each other. In the end, neither was victorious. They were both destroyed and the crystals were lost. Ever since, magic has been fading in this world—and it will continue to fade until someone finds the crystals again and unlocks their magic.

“An ancient prophecy states that one day, a mortal child will be born with the power of a sorceress, who will be able to command all four elements with a strength unseen in a thousand years.” There was no way a witch like his mother could do that. She had some fire magic abilities, enough to light candles, and a little earth magic that helped heal his cuts and scrapes, but that was all. “This prophesized child will be the key to finding the Kindred—and unlocking the magic within them.” Her face had flushed with excitement. “Of course, many believe this is only a legend.”

“But you believe it’s real.”

“With all my heart and all my soul.” She squeezed his hand. “And I also believe that you will be the one to find this important, magical child, and that you will claim this treasure for yourself. I knew it from the very moment you were born.”

He felt very special whenever she told him this, but it was never long until doubt set in and that feeling fled.

As if sensing his uncertainty, she cupped his face in her hands and stared deeply into his eyes. “You will not always be afraid of the dark. One day you will be strong and brave, growing more and more so with each year to come. Darkness will not scare you. Nothing will scare you. And without fear holding you back, you’ll take your place upon the throne and achieve your destiny.”

“Like Father?”

Her expression shadowed. “No. You will be much stronger than he could ever hope to be.”

Her vision for him sounded so incredible that he wanted it to be true right now. “When will I change?”

She kissed his forehead. “The most important changes take time and patience. But I have faith in you—more than anyone else in the whole world. You are destined for greatness, Gaius Damora. And I swear—no matter what I must do to ensure it—that greatness will be yours.”




All women are deceptive, dangerous creatures. Each a spider poisonous enough to kill with a single bite. Remember that.”

The advice Magnus’s father once gave him echoed in his memory as he stood on the Ravencrest docks and watched the Kraeshian ship disappear into the darkness. The King of Blood had never fully trusted a woman. Not his queen, not his former mistress and advisor, not even an immortal who whispered secrets to him in his dreams. Magnus usually ignored most of what his ruthless father said, but now he knew who was the most dangerous and deceptive of all.

Amara Cortas had stolen the Kindred, an aquamarine orb which contained the essence of water magic, leaving blood and destruction in her wake.

The driving snow bit into his skin, helping to numb the pain of his broken arm. Dawn was still hours off and the night was frigid enough to steal his life if he was careless.

Still, he found it impossible to do anything but stare out at the black waters and the stolen treasure that was supposed to be his.

“Now what?” Cleo’s voice finally interrupted his dark thoughts.

For a moment, he’d forgotten that he wasn’t alone.

“Now what, princess?” he hissed, frozen clouds forming before his mouth with each word he spoke. “Well, I suppose we should enjoy the short time we have left before my father’s men arrive to execute us on sight.”

The penalty for treason was death, even for the heir to the throne. And he had, most certainly, committed treason when he helped the princess currently standing behind him escape execution.