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WELCOME MESSAGE

The Cat, the Fox, and the Raven is my WIP novel about the boy, who was claimed by a fae prince during a battle and thus is destined to be owned by him.

They both, bound when the boy was still very young, go to fulfill an ancient prophecy, and stop the awakening fae god.

1.1

The evening was falling over the Vennklan Valley. Tiyan Markon, tired and sweaty after hard work in the glass factory, threw wet clothing on the bed. The room that he occupied was small, however, decorated just the way he liked it. He. Not his father.

Gravir Markon-Venn mocked his son too often – for the fact that he liked to have fresh flowers on the table, for not having made his muscles during the years of work in the factory. For being the only son who survived the war with fae.

Kilyans allowed people to preserve their culture, but most of Avras was subjected to magic so strong that devices ceased to operate, machines stopped halfway through, and people began to return to the old customs, before the industrial revolution. Cities were overgrown with forests, appearing out of nowhere, even though the fae resided in their land, issuing their orders to human rulers. Several cities could boast of steam machines – these were the largest cities, safe under the protection of King of Sai’vara’n, king of shee. These cities paid tribute to the fae first. Now they were in prosperity, while the smaller towns and villages were collapsing and falling apart.

Tiyan often wondered if this was the strategy of Manr’sun Dal, king of shee. To push people into the dark ages, stupefy, destroy civilization from the inside. People could even disappear from the face of the earth, but the fae didn’t need such a far-reaching plan. One battle was enough, just like…

Involuntarily, he looked at the strange sign he had had for a long time. Black raven on the shoulder. He didn’t remember him tattooing, but the sign looked just like a tattoo. He didn’t have it before the war. He didn’t have it directly after. It just appeared one day. Gravir was tattooed from head to toe, like most men, even women from their clan, Venn. The Venn family were good managers and their roots reached back thousands of years. The town was not only made of Venns, of course, but they ruled here supreme.

Tiyan often woke up at night, from the nightmare of the summer which ends, and he is carried home by a creature similar to a storm cloud, which squeezes his arm, arm burns, he is too tired to scream. Strangely, the creature held him by the arm, on which the tattoo appeared.

‘Magic!’ the boy snorted. He was seventeen now, and although he was not broad-shouldered, he was of good stature, the girls looked after him, which pleased him. However, it had to end on looking after only – he was promised to Miss Ray, from the mountains of Rayklan. Even though his father ordered Tiyan to work, they were wealthy enough to cultivate the old tradition of arranged marriage.

The work doesn’t disgrace, Gravir would say, and Tiyan would agree with him. It is true that after a whole day of this hardening of character, he was sore, but also satisfied. The work with these machines, which worked, was difficult, but the whole city was doing it, even young girls. Why would not he help his community?

Tiyan wanted to lie down on the bed and sleep for another two hours until mother called them back to dinner when there was a shrill cry from the kennel.

Tiyan jumped to his feet and stumbling over the not fully laced shoes, ran toward the shout.

When he found himself in the yard, he saw Kalina, his sister, defending herself against a huge dog. Tiyan knew this dog, it was their own bitch, which they used to hunt wild animals in the woods nearby. She was generally gentle to humans, but now she had saliva mixed with blood dripping from her mouth, her suddenly red eyes were full of hatred and hostility.

His father fell out of the kitchen, he didn’t have time to use a pistol, it was charging too long, he had to take a sword, although keeping one at home, and showing up with it in the yard, could attract the anger of the fae supporters. Obsolete weapon from the war with the magic people that was forbidden by them. The guns didn’t work on the fae, the bullets bounced off their magic protection fields. That’s why they had to use those damn swords from the first invasion, that’s why they lost.

Father threw himself at the dog with a desperate cry out of fear for his daughter. The bitch was biting Kalina, and she was getting weaker, she moved her hands more and more slowly, trying to defend herself against the angry animal. The dog didn’t allow Gravir to come near, he always had a daughter’s head or even whole body, where he was aiming with the crude weapon.

Tiyan, not thinking what he was doing, extended his hand to the fighting bitch, slowly approaching the furious dog.

‘Mina … Mina …’ his voice was slow and balanced. ‘Relax … do not do it … relax …’

The dog was not particularly intimate with the boy, but her red eyes blinked and Mina stopped attacking. Her eyes looked at him with suspicion and confusion, mixed with dwindling anger. She turned her head then, ready to sink her teeth in the neck of the girl, still with this unsure glint in her eyes. She bared her fangs slowly, distracted by the pleading of Tiyan, and seemingly fighting with her own urge. Then Kalina screamed and the animal fell dead, cut in half by desperate Gravir.

Tiyan quickly ran to his sister. Her right arm was torn apart, her leg was also full in blood, although it was not sure, whether it belonged to her or a dead dog. Kalina cried, both because of the wounds and the dog’s body that laid next to her, motionless.

‘Tiyan’ Gravir glared at him. His skin was covered with sweat and bloody saliva. He looked like an old god of war who descended from stormy heaven to punish those who are guilty.

‘Father, it’s …’

‘Never do it again. I would manage’ Gravir growled, but Tiyan unanimously thought that his father would not be able to cope. Magic influenced the bitch.

And he, since the raven appeared on his shoulder, learned to control it is small amounts.

It frightened his father, it terrified even Kalina. However, if thanks to this magical curse he could save his sister’s life, if only because of that…this gift was worth it.

Even if the sight of the animal killed because of the cruel, beastly magic, was unbearable to stand, even for him.

1.2

The evenings belonged to tale-telling. The family sat together, Tiyan’s father talked about the old battles and recalled the soldier’s life, grandmother told about the old forgotten kingdoms, which were long ago crushed by time, even Tiyo told horrible stories from which Kalina’s hair bristled on her head.

However, today no one wanted to tell any story. Father holed up with his mother in the marital bedroom, but they heard their raised voices. Kalina sat by the fireplace, still shaking with fear and pain. Grandmother Saya looked at her grandson with an inscrutable face.

‘Tiyo…’

It was Kalina’s voice. She was sitting like a heap of unhappiness, with her eyes still red from intense weeping.

Tiyan nodded to her, then walked closer and hugged her. Kalina seemed to flow through his arms. She was small, even for the age of six. A fragile, delicate girl. The doctor came, bandaged her arm and leg, and muttered something under his breath to eventually leave their home. He should take her to the hospital, but Kalina felt extremely good for someone attacked by a mad dog.

Grandmother Saya finally spoke, her voice was hoarse from smoking; old and absent.

‘Magic of the fae …’

‘Granny, not now’ Tiyan knew what would happen next. Grandmother will drown in the legends that usually made them shake their knees and they liked it, but now nobody needed it.

However, Saya began to speak as if she didn’t see her grandchildren, and her son didn’t argue with his wife in the next room.

‘Fae stood out of the moon and stars, created by Cat with seven paws. They were beautiful as the sun and mysterious like the night. Seelie, whom we call saru, loved the world and everything that lived on it, but Unseelie, known to us as kilyans, were cruel and they liked to look at the suffering of smaller and bigger creatures. The Cat was unhappy that they lived together, so he tore his seventh paw and blood fell on kilyans, the black blood of the god. From that moment they were forced to live outside the land of shee, in forests and mountains, far from civilization. What Cat did, was not to the liking of Manus, the father of the gods. But he couldn’t force the Cat to sew his leg again up to his body, so he created a different kingdom for Unseelie, behind the mountains in the forests that they had been through so far. Then the Courts were born, the Seelie Court, where everything smelled of flowers and the sun was shining, and the Unseelie Court, which hid in the eternal darkness. Then people came to Sorgon, and Saru took them under their protection, knowing that kilyans will want to destroy them. For many years, the protection of the saru allowed people to prosper and be happy and wealthy. Saru walked with people, like the bright messengers of the gods who were sent to give and never to take. But Cat didn’t like it. He didn’t create people and scrutinize them, so he took the saru from human land. Suddenly they disappeared, and then kilyans, fae of black hearts and immeasurable cruelty, attacked the land of people for the first time.’

Grandmother sighed as if she remembered the events herself. Although Tiyan had heard this story many times, he listened as if hypnotized, just like Kalina.

‘Kilyans killed almost everyone, but a small group of people survived, and the kilyans didn’t hear about them, nor knew about them; their village grew and the kingdom of people began to revive again. Kilyans, busy with their affairs and court intrigues, didn’t care about them, even didn’t know they exist. As long as the king didn’t start sending settlers deep into the mountains, oblivious to the danger. Then the Unseelie remembered the people, and then the Great War came.’

There were tears in Saya’s eyes. Tiyan didn’t know, whether because of the horrors of the war she survived or because of the story itself. Where were the saru? What happened to them? Did the Cat really take them into nothingness?

Tiyan heard his mother crying. Slowly, carefully, to avoid unnecessarily hurting of Kalina’s wounds, he stood up and walked to the door separating them from the bedroom of his mother and father.

It was not nice to overhear, but Tiyan didn’t care. Not after what happened to Mina.

‘The boy is marked!’ his father said. ‘Sooner or later, they will come for him anyway! Do you think I will fight the damned shee? Do you think I cannot remember what they did to my father ?!’

Something new. Tiyo did not know grandfather Ramas, but he didn’t know that he was killed by the fae, either.

‘But he is the last …the last son…’ mother was sobbing.

‘They will come, they will burn our house and take him with them, it would be better for him to go away now, maybe he saves his skin.’

‘The last … the last …’

Tiyo didn’t listen latter. Father wanted to send him away. If this is true and they will come for him, maybe will be better for him if he really goes away. He knew that he would have to do it, even before the magic began to rampage. He felt that the fae looks after him.

The black cloud, black eyes, darkness, storm.

Saya narrowed her eyes in the light of the lamp, dozing off. He didn’t dare to leave the house. However, he was seventeen. If he exposes the granny, mother, Kalina … did he have a choice?

He went to Kalina again. The girl also dozed off, a tale, one of the less terrible, that Tiyo thought was strangely beautiful, lulled her to sleep. Tiyo tucked her tightly over with blankets, as the enchanted winter had not ceased since the invasion of kilyans. Tiyan was wearing a jacket, thick and full of goose down. His shoes were heavy and adapted to walking in deep snow. The evening was cold, it sucked every span of warmth from his bones. However, he was attracted by a relatively warm bed. He looked again at the sleeping women and went to his room.

Will you have the courage to leave, Tiyo Vann?

1.3

Tiyan couldn’t sleep for a long time, he was tormented by the thought of leaving the house. The magic that had grown in him after the war had intensified and now the boy had moments when the whole world seemed to dance before his eyes, he saw things that weren’t… or maybe they were, only magic showed them to his eyes.

In one case or another, he was cursed, touched. In small towns like this, there was no place for magical creatures. Even if one was once a son of a respected clan leader.

He had to leave.

He knew his presence could cause the worst. Citizens could take care of him themselves. Here the hatred for the fae who killed half of the male population of the city was enormous. He felt their eyes on him, full of doubts and rejection. Soon they will turn into dislike and later into hostility. Magic manifested in him at strange times, in inappropriate places.

Besides, if the grandfather was killed by the fae …

He tried to remember the time of the last battle with shee. He only remembered the fire, the screams, the clang of metal and the hiss of the sun and moon spears of the fae. And eyes that looked at him. Not with hatred, but with interest and amusement. However, these black eyes were present whenever magic appeared in him. The shadow was in sight but never when he looked at it.

He was not afraid of the town’s inhabitants, as much as this dark shadow. He did not tell anyone about it. He couldn’t say that the fae were watching his every move, or at least watching him when magic worked.

He tumbled down on the bed until the first o’clock lulled him, sending him into a restless sleep.

At some point, while he was sleeping, kicking his bed with his legs, running somewhere unconsciously, his dream took his consciousness to a different place.

It was a palace placed in the forest. Created from the branches of trees and dark crystal, it seemed unreal. How can you combine a crystal and a living tree? The trees seemed to sing a song from which he felt goosebumps. It was full of longing, pain, and nostalgia as if the boughs were crying for long-gone times. Tiyo stretched his hands before his eye and didn’t recognize them. They were transparent, shimmering like crystals building a palace, reflecting light like diamonds. His bodies seemed light as if he was made of smoke or the glow of the setting sun, the dawn full of light.

In his dream he did not feel fear, he relished over his new form. He didn’t remember who he was, but he knew he was not part of this world, and this form had been offered to him to see the palace and hear his song.

In front of the crystal gate of the palace, creatures with pointed ears flashed, airy, light, as if woven from cobwebs, from summer’s gossamer. They didn’t look at him as if he was not there. Most of them wore green and blue. He couldn’t see the weapon or feel enmity, but he could feel the darkness everywhere, even if the sun was at its zenith. He floated in the dark light and primal splendor of the palace and its inhabitants.

Then, as the song of the trees rocked him like a child’s cradle, he heard a voice. It was sonorous, boyish, it brought to mind the sound of the stream on a cold winter’s day.

“Tiyo … how long will I wait for my faithful servant?”

Normally, Tiyan would have to slap anyone who would call him his servant. But the voice hated opposition, even if it seemed to belong to someone younger than him. It was the voice of the ruler.

“I have a right to you, and the seed has sprouted up. Magic is tormenting you, isn’t it? How much easier would it be to take off the shackles and go to a place where the magic of humans does not work. Where you’ll be safe. The pain must be unbearable when you see things you should not see. It’s sweet to see your suffering, but my grace is boundless. “

Tiyo wanted to answer, but his mouth was silent.

“Soon, I will send for you, and you will not be able to refuse.”

Tiyo suddenly felt that his real body was coming back, and the creatures in front of him gazed at him with confused eyes. He didn’t belong to this place, not in this body. But did he belong anywhere?

He woke up sweated in a dug-up bed. He sat down, feeling the wet linen stick to his skin. He was defiled, cursed. He will never give him peace, whoever he was. He hid his face with his hands.

He has not fallen asleep that night.