From Shadow and Silence
Book 4 in the Elements of Five Series
If I fall, the world will burn—but if I don’t, the cost will be too much: Easton.
The end of the centuries-long war is almost here, and the fate of the realm rests on my shoulders. The Gray has gathered his forces—and has me captive.
The enemy’s plan to control the kingdoms has been revealed, but traitors from both sides might alter the course of fate.
I must return to Easton and the others before all is lost. Battle lines must be forged, and surprising alliances cast. The prophecy has never altered, and life comes at an ultimate price.
Not all who fight will survive, but in the end, it will come down to a choice.
My life. Easton’s. Or a realm forgotten.
From Shadow and Silence is the epic conclusion to the Elements of Five series and DOES have an HEA like all of Carrie Ann’s series.
From Shadow and Silence
I wasn’t dreaming.
Odd, since I’d had this dream before. I’d felt these flames, this wind. I’d had this dirt under my feet; heard the sound of water hitting my ears from far off in the distance like I did now.
Only I knew this wasn’t a dream.
It was a nightmare.
A living one.
I stood on the connecting points of five elements and four directions—the center of the abyss. But there was no real light, only shadow.
And I knew this wasn’t a dream.
Wasn’t where the world crept over my skin and seeped into my soul. It had to be real.
And I wasn’t alone.
Braelynn stood near my shoulder, her wings tucked behind her, the right one brushing my hair.
She’d once been human, my best friend. Now, she was my Familiar, a cat with wings who could breathe fire. Recently, she’d found herself able to grow into the size of a panther, as well. Fortunately for my shoulder, she’d reverted to her original size—around the size of a house cat.
I knelt in the corner of a cave—at least it felt as if it could be a one—and tried to control my breathing. Braelynn nuzzled into the side of my face, and I reached up and tried to pet her, only I hit her wing instead, and cursed under my breath.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I didn’t know if anyone was listening, and I didn’t want them to hear what I was saying. It wasn’t as if the apology falling from my lips, issued to a cat on my shoulder, would matter in the end.
I let out a breath, tried to reach my Wielding, but I couldn’t. I only felt a gaping void gnawing at my soul. Panic slid through me at the thought, and I tried again.
I was the Spirit Priestess, one who could hold all five elements of the realm. Though I didn’t know if I was in the Maison realm at the moment. Still, I should have been able to use Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. As well as Spirit.
When I was in the human realm, I wasn’t able to use my Wielding to its full extent, but I could still feel the tendrils of power deep inside, spiraling through my body.
Others had sacrificed so much to help me get to the point where I could even unlock my elements. I had lost so much in my pursuit of them, and I was still learning to control my power. However, I should be able to feel them. Yet, I couldn’t. It was as if something had blocked me; dampened my senses. And I couldn’t understand why.
Was this the Shadow realm that Easton had talked about?
I swallowed hard and tried not to think about Easton. Because I missed him. He had been taken from me before. After enduring so much, after breaking the curse, finding him, and losing so many of our people along the way, now I had been taken.
I would get back to him.
I had to.
I would get Braelynn home. And I would find a way to protect the realm and bring the crystals back together.
There was nearly no light in the cave, shadows all around me. But the thin sliver of illumination I saw danced along my skin and shone brightly.
The sparkles within from the remnants of the two crystals—both the dark and the light—that had been embedded in my skin when they shattered.
The Obscurité and the Lumière fighting for so long, killing each other along the way, had destroyed their crystals, as well.
The crystals that kept the Maisons alive.
I didn’t know what would happen now that they were gone.
Could I use them somehow? I didn’t think so. They had only just shattered, finally losing their fight in the war. And, somehow, becoming a part of me.
Then The Gray, the Wielder of shadow, had taken me. Taken me to his realm, most likely—if that’s where this was—and away from my friends. My new family. I had no other family left. The Gray had sent his lackey to kill my parents. They were gone, murdered in front of me, and that was how I ended up with the Spirit element in my body. The one I didn’t quite understand.
It wasn’t like it would help me now anyway.
Braelynn purred, and I wished she would grow and use that fire she could spew from her mouth.
It was a new talent, one I didn’t understand, but everyone else seemed to. It was like a running joke for my friends to hide what Braelynn truly was and what being a Familiar entailed. I didn’t mind. It was nice to have something fun, a mystery that couldn’t hurt. Especially since I had so many secrets that had dug deep down into my skin, never to let go, their claws penetrating my flesh and taking part of my soul along the way.
“You seem so introspective,” a deep, rumbling voice said from the doorway. I stood up, my knees shaking, my skin bloody. I swallowed hard.
“You’ve made a mistake by taking me,” I said, my voice far stronger than I imagined. Good. Because I wasn’t just going to lie down and take this. I wouldn’t let him win.
I would find a way to access my Wielding, and I would break free. The others wouldn’t have to come for me. They had other things to worry about. Namely, a realm that was being ripped apart at the very seams.
They needed to protect the territories, safeguard the innocent.
I would have to save myself.
“You seem to be full of words and false promises for someone locked in a cave with a cat.” The Gray moved forward, his cowl over his head so I couldn’t see his face. “But then again, that’s not quite a cat, is it? A young Familiar? Interesting. Though one you don’t seem to know how to harness the power of. Which makes sense. Despite the prophecy of the powerful Spirit Priestess, you seem to be nothing. No one. Of no consequence.”
I swallowed hard and glared at him. I desperately wanted to pull from my Wielding like I’d been trained to, only I couldn’t. I hoped it was only temporary. If not? No…I wouldn’t think about that. I pulled my focus back to The Gray. “You’re the one still talking, not me.”
The Gray lifted his head, his cowl falling back. He glared. “Oh, I’m going to have fun with you, dear Lyric. Just like my friend had fun with your parents.”
I glared, and Braelynn huffed smoke out through her nose as Garrik and another man moved up from behind The Gray. I didn’t know who this other man was, but it had to be Durlan. The Gray’s second, the one Easton hadn’t been sure he killed. Evidently, Durlan was still alive, though he did look a little pale and sickly—probably because he’d had a knife in his gut. I hoped he died soon.
Not something I would have ever thought before I came to this place. After all, I had been born human. Or so I’d thought. I hadn’t known the Maison realm lay upon the human realm. I didn’t know there were even more realms, ones I didn’t have names for yet, where others lived, and magic was wrought.
The territories of the Maison realm had been at war with each other for eons; the kingdoms split into two courts ages ago.
The Lumière, the light, held the Water and Air territories. While the Obscurité, the dark, held Fire and Earth. The Spirit territories lay between them, not of either court but of their own power. Until the Spirit Wielders were murdered, wiped out, and those who had survived hidden amongst the humans.
When the first kings fought for so long, they had turned their people against one another. Great battles and wars ensued and eventually created the Fall—a cataclysmic event that had forever and irrevocably altered the realm.
During the Fall, the realm had fractured, a large crack that had taken lives, including those of the kings. A new Queen of Obscurité and King of Lumière had risen, a daughter and son of their respective courts. They continued to fight, though not in the same fashion. Queen Cameo had done her best to keep the peace, though it hadn’t looked as such. King Brokk, and his twin, Lord Durin, had broken the laws of the Maisons and sacrificed lives for their power. They’d used Bone magic and worse.
The crystals that kept the realms alive endured the most strain, the cost high. They bled power and thus created the Danes—former Wielders who had been stripped of their power but not their lives. They existed without Wielding in a world that required magic to thrive.
The fracture had also created the Negs, dark energy monsters that killed and worked for The Gray—a fact I hadn’t known until recently. The Fall had created chaos and doom. And a demise that was sure to come.
However, the prophecy brought hope.
A foretelling that was me. The Spirit Priestess who could Wield all five elements and somehow seal the breach.
Only that wasn’t happening.
Instead, the fracture had only gotten worse. The Gray had orchestrated more war, more battles. I had lost friends, family, and even a part of myself. It didn’t matter that I had found my soulmate because I wasn’t near him now, and the bond that we had created wasn’t enough to save those we loved.
The Gray was winning.
He had used the king of the Lumière as well as his brother, the Lord of Water, to take down the Obscurité. We had lost, at significant cost to my friends, and had thus begun a new Fall.
Now, there was no Lumière and Obscurité. Just those against The Gray, and The Gray himself.
As I stood in the shadows and watched Durlan, the man who had tried to kill Easton—my soulmate, the king of the Obscurité Kingdom in title and one of our resistance leaders—I could only remember what the vile man had done. He had tortured Easton, and I knew he was here to do the same to me.
My anger was not for him alone. No, it was also for the Whisperer at his side.
Garrik was a Dane but held power in a way that wasn’t of this realm. At least, that’s what I thought. He could ferret out secrets, and had been spying on my friends within the Obscurité Court before he did the unthinkable.
He and The Gray had used each other and killed my parents right in front of me. It had shattered my soul into a thousand pieces, leaving me dust. Somehow, I was still standing, looking at the man who had killed my family. And while I knew I had no Wielding here, I wasn’t powerless.
I couldn’t be, not with the rage inside my soul.
“Ah, I see you remember me. How is my old friend?” Garrik asked, grinning. He ducked his shoulders, lowered his head, and gave me what I thought might be puppy-dog eyes. All I saw was death. “The Prince of Obscurité was never much for strength. ‘Oh, help me, I’m just sad, and I hate being part of this. They always hurt me, and nobody likes me. Won’t you like me?’” He started to laugh. I moved forward, my hands outstretched. No Wielding came, but Braelynn growled on my shoulder. The Gray simply laughed.
“Stop trying to use your Wielding, Priestess. You are amusing, though.” The Gray flicked his fingers, and shadows slid around me, ropes of darkness coiling around my stomach and my arms. They shackled me to the walls, arms outstretched, feet tethered to the floor. Braelynn was still on my shoulder, and it was like The Gray didn’t even bother worrying about her.
For that, I was grateful. He could hurt me if he wanted. I would find a way out. But if he hurt Braelynn…?
I would never forgive myself.
And he would scream in agony as I killed him.
The shadow ropes around my wrists tightened, and my fingers splayed, trying to get blood to flow through them. It felt as if the bonds were burning as they dug into my flesh. Blood trickled down, and I let out a slow breath. I could survive this.
The others wouldn’t need to come for me.
I could do this.
The Gray looked at Braelynn on my shoulder and flicked his fingers again. Suddenly, she was floating in the air right above my head, wrapped in a protective smoke cage. She beat at the wispy bars and growled, but she seemed unharmed.
Pain radiated through my arms and legs, but I didn’t care. He couldn’t hurt me. I was going to survive this. I had to.
The Gray smiled, and Durlan moved forward, a knife in his hand. I let fear slide into me. Just a trickle of trepidation.
But I knew something he didn’t.
I knew The Gray couldn’t hold back my powers forever.
Easton might have been able to make it out with someone’s help, and for that, I’d be forever grateful. But I could feel some of my Wielding coming back. It was as if my powers were trapped behind a wall. If I kept digging, using whatever mental strength I could muster, I could get to them. And I could get myself out of this.
I had to.
Because I was the Spirit Priestess, and I would not let anyone else die for me.
“The Maison realm will be mine, and we’ll no longer be locked within this Shadow realm for long stretches of time. You’ll remain here as my power, my source. And I will rule as I should have long ago.” He took a step forward and then another. “Because you should know who I am, dear Lyric. You should know a Spirit Wielder when you see one.”
My eyes widened. I shook my head, shock and shame sliding through me. “No, the Spirit Wielders are dead.” He couldn’t be of the lost people.
“Not all of them. Some hid, and others were chained. For, of course, not all Spirit Wielders were on the side of the Obscurité.”
I frowned. “What are you saying?”
“The King of Lumière, the old one, the one who died in the Fall, used bone magic and the Spirit Wielders to create his power. He was the one who started all of this. And I was his knight.” The Gray grinned, even as realization dawned.
I had always known it hadn’t been balanced. The Lumière hadn’t always been right, and the Obscurité hadn’t always been cast in shadow. The histories weren’t always of truth. They were written by those in power.
I hadn’t known a Spirit Wielder had been on the side of the mad king, though. The Spirit Wielders were often tortured and had almost been eradicated.
They touched souls and kept the living free.
And he had been one of them.
But one of darkness. And yet, he’d worked for the Lumière. The light.
“I am a Spirit Wielder, Lyric. And that means I can take your soul. I can touch it. I can wrap it in shadow. I can twist it. I can do whatever I need to.”
“You’ll never win,” I spat, fear laying on itself within me.
“You think your perfect little boyfriend will be able to find you? Or is that two boyfriends? I never can quite keep up with teenagers and their sordid affairs.”
“No one needs to save me. I’m the Spirit Priestess. I can save myself.”
The Gray smiled, a flash of teeth. “Well, that should be interesting. You have no power here. I am the one with the Wielding, and have a Whisperer and a man with a knife besides.”
Durlan took another step forward. The flash of light was quick, and I screamed.