The following is a selection from “Descent from Anwyn”, the debut sci-fi novel by Lisa Chronister. To read the full story, check out her novel on Amazon in e-book and paperback. Follow the links below for more details.
Genève stood in the alley, pouting. She looked into Talon’s yellow eyes, trying to hold on to her resentment, but those damn eyes of his made it harder than it should have been. Talon leaned against a wooden fence. Taking a step forward, Genève adjusted his old leather jacket, and he placed a helmet over her hair with a sly smile. They were in the middle of a spirited argument, which was nothing new. She enjoyed how he got her blood boiling. Some would describe her as an eccentric person, yet few people understood her dark humor. That didn’t stop her, though; it encouraged her. She was always quick to laugh, joke, and have a good time.
There was another side to her. Although her father’s blood ran strong in her, she carried pieces of her mother. Cursed with a stereotypical redhead temper, her anger burned hot as fire.
Through clenched teeth, Genève said, “I still don’t see why I have to wear a helmet, and you don’t.”
Kissing the tip of her nose he replied, “My bike, my rules. Besides, I don’t want to mess up my hair.”
He took a step back. A look of fear replaced his silly, lopsided grin as two hands grabbed him from behind. He glanced over at Genève and realized the hands also had her. He just hoped she could keep her lip at bay and stay calm.
A deep voice growled, “We are the queen’s guards.”
Talon’s mouth hung open, and he prayed they wouldn’t hear Genève’s obscenities under her breath.
“Queen Chandi requires your immediate presence. You won’t be hurt if you don’t put up a fight.”
Genève and Talon both knew better than to disobey the monarch’s patrol. Their fathers were the top two in the hierarchy, and they had heard stories from infancy about what happened to those who tried to escape the ruler’s summons. Genève felt an icy chill run up her spine. Something must have gone terribly wrong, or their fathers would have been the ones ushering them before the queen.
The walk up the palace stairs and down the long corridor to the queen’s chambers only took moments, yet each second seemed like an eternity. Step after step, the fear ran colder and more intense. Genève imagined that if someone touched her face right then, their fingers would freeze to her skin.
They walked into the room where the court was held. The guardian of the realm was sitting down, with guards on all sides, her eyes brimming with tears. Genève’s mother, Oleander, Talon’s mother, Anise, and Talon’s father, Derik, were all chained on their knees in front of the ruler. Their faces were pale and covered with sweat. Genève’s father was nowhere to be seen.
Before registering what, she was doing, her body automatically dropped her down to her knee so she could formally bow to the queen. Talon did the same. Genève’s mother was not a kind woman, so Genève spent a lot of time with her father, who was the right hand of the monarch. She had always wished that the two of them were her parents. She knew that the queen secretly loved her father.
Her old friend smiled weakly and declared, “Rise my child. I’ve unpleasant news to deliver. Please, come closer.” She drew a breath and reached out for Genève’s long fingers.
Genève stumbled forward and grabbed her hand. “What has happened, My Queen?”
As her lip trembled, the queen answered, “My kingdom has been corrupted by lust and greed, and your father has paid the ultimate price for it. I am sorry to tell you, but your father has fallen. He sacrificed his life to save his queen.”
Genève fell to the ground. For a moment, the world started spinning, and she could not breathe.
All she could feel was despair as the pain settled like a boulder in the pit of her stomach.
Genève pictured her father. Just last night he had taken her to the carnival. His grin was so goofy, just like it always had been. The moment was just a regular moment in time. Genève had been trying to win a trinket at the target practice booth. As her father held her hand in his, she couldn’t help but notice how much rougher his hands were. He stood up, bowing deeply just to show off, and grabbed the bow. After winking at Genève, all three targets became memories in mere seconds. Just like him. Now he was just a memory too.
The memory wasn’t over, and Genève never wanted it to be. She kept her eyes closed and continued to reminisce. There had been a glint in his eyes when the man behind the booth grumpily handed over the toy. That glint meant more to her than all the treasures in all the worlds. She could not accept that she would never see her father’s smile again.
Barely holding it together, her eyes met the queen’s. “How could this be, My Queen? The realm has been at peace for many years.”
“That, my dear, was the first question I proposed. The next was, where was my second in command? If your father had not been guarding me alone, he would still live.”
Talon looked up and asked, “Father, where were you when the queen and the father of my beloved needed you most?”
Anise looked up and, between gritted teeth, said, “Yes, where were you? That is the important question, is it not?”
Derik looked up with regret in his eyes. “I will admit my part in this woman, but his death is on your hands.”
The queen stood and shouted, “Enough! I have had enough of this. Apparently, your father was too busy lying with Oleander to bother protecting his queen and his realm.”
The queen walked closer to Anise and slapped her. “Wipe that smirk off your face. Derik has gotten one thing right–the part you played in this was far worse than the act of infidelity that they committed.”
Genève looked at the monarch. “Please tell me what is happening. Why are they all in chains?” she asked.
The queen closed her eyes to regain her composure.
“Anise found out that Oleander and Derik had been having an affair for months.” She paced back and forth, trying not to let the despair seep into her voice. “She discovered when they would meet, and she realized that he would be late to his duties, which would leave us vulnerable. She hired a group of thugs to attack our entourage as I made my way to court. They shot your father through the heart with a poisoned arrow. He now resides with the gods in Platonia. Fortunately, last week, when the Elders of Beimeni came to pay their respects, they gifted me with the capacity to perceive the truth in any situation. Your father was the only person who knew that I now possess the ability to make people tell me their deepest secrets. So, Anise thought I would have Derik killed for breach of duty, and she would go free.”
Genève recognized all too well how these things were handled, so she asked, “My Queen, what will happen to all of us?”
Sadness overcame the queen. As much as she tried to stop it, her voice quivered. “If you only knew how many times, I wished I had met your father before he wed your mother. I treated you as a daughter because I have yearned for you to be mine. I would do anything to keep you here by my side in Anwyn, but I just cannot. It would send the wrong message and put the entire land in danger. I must kill Anise. Because of the affection I have for your father, I will spare your mother so that she can still tend to you. Because of the respect I will always bear for you, I will let Derik live to take care of your one genuine love. However, you may not stay in Anwyn. Everyone in both clans will be banished to the human realm.”
Genève was in shock. “Thank you, My Queen. I must ask, will we not lose our agelessness?”
A tear slid down the queen’s face. Still, she remained in control. “Yes, my dear. After one hundred years, you will begin to age. A human lifetime will pass, and so shall you. I wish I could give you your life, but I can’t. I can permit you time that no one else would have for this kind of treason.”
Genève watched as the ruler raised her sword, reciting the words for the banishment of two clans of high-ranking fae. That’s all they were–pretty, pretty words. The queen had always had a weakness for words. Genève kept staring as countless memories collided. She had spent so much of her life playing word games. Her father had always let the queen come out ahead–it didn’t matter what game. Although he never once let Genève win, he knew that, if caught, he would have been the victim of her fury. Nobody wanted that.
Genève’s thoughts shifted to how cozy her father’s rough hands felt. It occurred to her that this was goodbye. Genève wished she had been given this luxury with her father. She tried to remember her last words to him, it was only this morning I saw his face. I spoke to him, and now he’s gone.
Her mind wandered as she watched her twin flame, who stood helplessly, watching his mother’s execution. Genève couldn’t look away. She stared as his mother’s head hit the ground, never breaking eye contact as it stopped in a crimson puddle. Still, she looked on as the skull emerged.
About the Author
Lisa Chronister worked as an Administrative Assistant and Customer Service Representative for over twenty years. You could always find her sitting by herself with a book or plugging away at one of her stories. She is engaged to the love of her life, and they have been together eight years. Also, she is the mother of three beautiful, smart, young woman. Two silly dogs, and an adorable stuck-up cat have taken over her home and her heart. She spends more time with her animals than she does people, and she is perfectly content with that. Lisa is an avid outdoors person. She is happiest when she is in the woods or the water. Lisa spent many years, at many different campgrounds just enjoying the natural beauty. Fun fact, Lisa is inspired by nature, most of Descent from Anwyn was written when she was camping, or her Fiancé was fishing. To learn more about her novel, visit her website at: https://descentfromanwyncom.wordpress.com