Home > The Choice(The Dragon Heart Legacy #3)

The Choice(The Dragon Heart Legacy #3)
Author: Nora Roberts

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Throughout the span of time, the worlds of man often believe themselves singular. Those who believe and accept they aren’t alone in the vastness tend to consider themselves superior to those who share the vastness.

They are wrong, of course, as the worlds of man are neither singular nor superior. They simply are.

In the worlds upon worlds that spin, some proclaim for peace even as they beat the drums of war. That they beat the drums with an insatiable greed for power over others, for land, for resources and riches in the name of their favored deity rarely strikes as wrong, or even ironic.

It simply is.

In some worlds, war is the deity, and the worship of it bloody and fierce.

There are worlds where great cities rise from golden sands, others where palaces glitter under the depths of deep blue seas. And those that struggle to life from hardly more than a spark in the dark.

Whether the denizens of a world climb the high mountains or swim the oceans, whether they live in great cities or huddle over a fire in a forest, whether they beat the drums or rock the cradle, all share one common goal.

To be.

In one such world, in the long ago, Man and Fey and gods existed. In this world grew cities and palaces, lakes and forests. Mountains rose high; oceans ran deep. For a time out of time, magicks shined under sun and under moon.

Wars came as wars will. In some, greed prospered. And in some, the thirst for power could never be slaked, even with the blood of the conquered hot in its throat. One dark god, crazed with power, drank deep of man and Fey and more, and was cast out of the world.

But this was not an ending.

As the wheel of time turned, as it must, snakes of suspicion and fear slithered into the harmony of man and gods and Fey. For some, progress at all and any cost replaced the bond between magicks and man, and the worship of the more took over the reverence once given to the gods.

And so there came a time of choice, to step away from the magicks or to preserve them, to abandon the old gods or respect them. Making this choice, the Fey broke away from the worlds of man and the suspicions and fears that burned them at stakes, hunted them in forests, condemned them to the axe.

So Talamh, a world from a world, was born.

Those wise enough, with vision enough, created portals for passage between worlds, as by law of Talamh, all and any had the choice to stay or go. There, in a land of green hills, high mountains, deep forests and seas, magicks thrived, and under the leader—chosen and choosing—peace held.

But this was not an ending.

The dark god plotted in his dark world and gathered his army of the demons and the damned. With time, with blood, he harnessed enough power to pass through the portal and into Talamh. There he courted a young witch, one chosen and choosing as taoiseach, and blinded her with love and lies. She gave him a son, and in secret, while the mother lay in enchanted sleep, he drank power from the babe, night after night.

But a mother’s love holds great magick, so she woke from this forced sleep. And awakening, led an army against the god to cast him back and seal the portal. When it was done, she deemed herself unworthy to lead as taoiseach, so cast the sword back into Lough na Fírinne and gave the staff to the one who lifted the sword from the water.

So once again, peace held, and in the peace of the green hills and deep forests of Talamh, her son grew. One day, with pride and sorrow, she watched him lift the sword from the lake and take his place as taoiseach.

Under him, peace held; justice was served with wisdom and compassion. The crops grew and magicks thrived.

Fate deemed he would meet and love a woman, a child of man. Through his choice and hers, he brought her through the portal to his world, and there, out of love and joy, they made a child, a daughter.

The magicks in her beamed bright, and for three years she knew only love.

But the dark god’s thirst was not slaked, and his rage only grew. Once again, he amassed his powers through blood sacrifices and dark magicks, aided by a witch who turned from the bright to the dark.

He stole the child, imprisoned her in a glass cage beneath the waters near the portal. While her father, her grandmother, while all the warriors of Talamh rode or flew on wing or dragon to save her, she who had only known love knew fear.

And that fear in one so bright bloomed into a rage as wild as the god’s. So her power bloomed with it and struck out at the god who was her own blood, her own kin.

She broke her cage even as the Fey attacked the god and his forces. Once again, the god was cast out and left beneath the ruins of his black castle.

Her mother, human in her fear and with a fear that turned to bias and a bias that tainted love, demanded to take the child to the world of man, to have the child’s memory of magicks and Talamh and all who dwelled there erased.

Out of love for the child, and for the mother, the father granted this and took them through the portal, lived with them in the world of man, returning to Talamh for love, for duty as often as he could.

But though the love for the child never dimmed for the father, the love between the child of man and the child of Fey couldn’t survive, and his efforts to live in both worlds carved pieces from his heart.

Yet again the god threatened Talamh, and the worlds beyond it. And once again the Fey, led by the taoiseach, defended. The Fey drove him back, but with his dark magicks, with his black sword, the god killed the son he’d made.

So another time for mourning, and another time of choosing.

A young boy, mourning the taoiseach as he had mourned his own father, lifted the sword from the lake, took up the staff.

While the boy grew into a man, one who sat in the Chair of Justice in the Capital or helped his brother and sister with their farm in the valley, while he flew over Talamh on his dragon and trained for the battle all knew would come, the daughter lived in the world of man.

There, with her mother’s fear and resentment, she was taught to step back and never forward, to look down rather than up, to fold her hands instead of reach. She lived a quiet life that brought little joy, and there knew nothing of magicks. Her bright came from a friend who was a brother in all but blood and in a man who stood as a mother of her heart.

She dreamed, sometimes of more and different, but too often her dreams came blurred and dark. And in her heart lived a sorrow for the father she believed had left her.

One day a door opened for her. She made a choice, this woman who’d been taught so rigidly not to risk, not to step forward, not to reach. She traveled across the ocean to Ireland in hopes of finding her father and finding herself. In her travels she found a love for the place, for the green and the mists and the hills.

In a cottage by a bay, she explored those dreams of more, and reached out for those even as she reached in to find herself. One day, she came upon a tree deep in the forest that seemed to grow from a stand of rock. She climbed onto the long, thick branches.

And stepped out of the world she knew and into the world of her birth.

Her magicks stirred awake, as did her memories, aided by the grandmother who loved and had longed for her, by the faerie who’d been her friend in childhood, and by the boy—now a man—who had lifted the sword from the lake.

She learned of her father’s death, and mourned him. Of her grandmother’s sacrifice, and loved her. She discovered her powers and the joy in them. And though she feared, she learned of her place in Talamh, the threat of the dark god who was her blood, so she trained to fight with magicks, with sword, with fist.

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