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The Gift Of Winter

By @kbaxter324

Chapter 1

I was lost. Or at least it felt like I was. A dense smog surrounded me and the forest around me, humidity heavy on my skin. The air felt thick as I took in quick breaths. People started appearing, making a scene I didn’t want to see. A large clearing surrounded me, the trees damp from the previous rain most likely the night before. Large trees stood close together around the clearing. My eyes caught a group of six people. They didn’t look enough like each other to be family but their closeness led me to think that they might be part of the same shifter pack. They were all physically fit and dressed in clothes didn’t quite fit them meaning that they had most likely shifted and changed into clothes. They were stuck motionless as most my prophetic dreams usually started. The scene slowed into motion, blurring slightly.

“We just received info that the Elites are attacking tonight from one of our spies,” one of the men said. His face was tight with worry, his dark brown eyes anxious as he informed the group of people. He stood tense waiting for their response; his muscles flexed.

“Tonight?” another man asked. He had leaner muscle but looked to be the same height. He ran a hand down his face. “We need to get the woman and children out of here then,” he said, anguish dancing across his features as he ran his fingers through his long hair.

“We can’t take them to the usual bunkers. They most likely already know about them. We have to take them under the mountains,” the burly man informed the rest of the small group. The group talked quietly among themselves so much so that I couldn’t understand them. Most of them anxiously trying to share ideas, while other stood emotionless not thinking or maybe mind linking. The scene stopped there, and everything blurred passed quickly. My head ached from the quick movement, but I found myself in a field.

A field of red, the strong smell of iron in the air. The horrific scene played. Claws, knives, guns burst out. Screaming, moaning, the most terrible sounds engulfed my ears. I could barely keep my eyes open. Both sides looked armed. The shifters clad in their fighting gear, and the Elites in their thin body armor. Most of the Elites were armed with silver, the most common weakness for shifters. The shifters tried to fight if they could in their human forms, but their animal side took over quickly. The strongest were able to shift in less than a second. They were werewolves, the most common shifters. 

 A knife hit me, causing me no pain. The Elites seemed to take notice of me. They charged at me. I desperately tried to freeze or stop them, but nothing worked. I tried to prepare for them, but my body wouldn’t move. I was immobile. Dread rushed through my body. I tried to scream, but nothing would leave my mouth. I wasn’t going to die like this, I was the Princess of Fae, for goodness’s sake. Their knives pierced my skin. I was no longer invisible in this scene, I was there. Wake up, I begged my body, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t pull out of the scene. Heat started to envelope me, eating away at my body. I was done for. I resigned to my fate and closed my eyes, clenching my teeth in pain.

My eyes flew open. I was still intact. No wounds. No matter how many times I had nightmares, it still felt real, and I always let the fear overcome me. My eyes took in the pale shimmer on my arms. Frost. I needed to get in control. I needed to be perfectly in control. Especially if my parents expected me to stay hidden. I let out a cold breath. My recent nightmares of the future were troubling, with so many horrific scenes. The bed sheets were tangled around me, stuck to my sweating skin. I pulled them off and stepped out of my bed, sitting on the floor, the cool hardwood causing small bumps to gather on my legs. I let a deep breathe, before standing up on my unstable feet. I stumbled over to my desk and began to write what I had seen. I continued scribbling recounting what detail I had seen, storing it in my memory. I placed the paper in a lockbox in my drawer, keeping the notes safe from anyone. My prophetic dreams could only predict outcomes, but they seemed to be filled with more bloodshed than usual.

I pushed the ghastly scenes away, thinking about the new day. I arrived late last night from the airport, where I had come from London. Last week had been a disaster, especially after I had found out.

***

My parents’ office was large. It overlooked the courtyard and garden my mother adored. The room itself was the oldest part of the house that had never been remodeled. Large mahogany shelves stood up against the wall filled with books. A large wooden desk stood at the center of the room, where my parents were seated.

“Mother, Father,” I greeted properly bowing. They nodded and I took a seat.

“Kallista I am sure you are aware of the attacks of the Elitists are getting closer. From what we were informed is that they are planning an attack on specifically you,” My father said holding my mother’s hand, whose eyes were glistening with unshed tears.

“Yes, but they can’t do much harm, right?” I asked looking between them trying to figure out what the meaning of this meeting was. I had seen the groups of Elitists they weren’t that large.

“They are growing in followers and their attacks are becoming more relentless. Our spies have as we told you are planning an attack on you. Because they believe that if they can get you, they won’t have such a struggle with attacks,” Father said his green eyes hard, emotionless. He had a plan it was clear, and he knew I wouldn’t like it.

“We have decided to send you to New Hampshire,” Mother spoke. Her clear voice filling the room. “It is a private school for important creatures. There you will be a scholarship student. We already have your bodyguards selected for you. Asher Sparks, and Charles Bracken as they will make an excellent cover,” She informed me. I nodded taking it in. My parents were shipping me off they believed that the Elitists could hurt me. My parents could never and never would how much I concealed my magic.

“You cannot tell anyone. Your siblings aren’t even being told,” My father instructed. I nodded as they continued to give instructions.

***

I stood up from the large white desk and headed towards the closet to change into the uniform the school had assigned. The boarding school was for talented magical creatures and most people came from a status that expected the best. About a hundred years ago the school had been built for the royal families. It was required that the royalty attended to show peace between the creatures, but after the vampires had started hunting Fae seventy years ago, the Fae royalty didn’t attend. Until now, I laughed to myself. I pulled the cotton white button up shirt off the hanger and buttoned it on. Reaching for the gold, black and red plaid skirt I noticed the symbol of the academy stitched into the pocket of the dress shirt. In the symbol was a dove representing peace. I grabbed the red blazer and threw it on, and then tied on a pair of shoes.

Breakfast was going to be soon, so I opened my dorm door and locked it behind me, making my way to the cafeteria. I walked down the hallway with a strong stride. Large, framed paintings hung along the walls, displaying beautiful scenes. Each of the scenes were different colors but still somehow matched the entire hallway, which was also lined with a grey carpet that covered the white marble. Doors lined the hallways for students’ dorms. I followed a curve in the hallway and walked down a staircase and turned the corner, meeting a large double door that was propped open. I noticed the intricate carvings that told the story of the first creatures. Fae, Elves, Mer people, Shades, Shifters, and Vampires were all engraved in the large doors telling the story of the first war. I pulled my eyes away from the stunning door and walked into the cafeteria. My eyes swept the large room. It wasn’t just a room–it was a series of multiple stories.

The first floor had large buffet tables arranged for students, filled with all types of food. Lunch tables were situated, and students were sitting, eating, and chatting. First floor could be seen by the open second and third which had balconies. The open ceiling at the top of the third floor was a dome that was made of glass, letting natural light in. I pulled myself from examining the beauty of the room and made my way to the line of students getting food. The delicious smells of food hit my nose. I grabbed a plate and utensils considering which food to get. I succumbed to the mouthwatering steak and eggs that caught my eyes. I placed my plate onto a tray. Remembering my parents’ instructions, I made my way up the stairs to the second floor where my parents had informed me, I would meet my bodyguards. I walked around different tables until I found the two familiar faces. I felt their familiar auras. I made my way over to them. The strong scent of the forest and the ocean hit my nose. An Elf and a Mer.

“Shouldn’t you two be doing homework?” I asked. They both turned to me, startled. Charles’ bright blue eyes studied me. Recognition flashed across them. My parents had been sure to let them know what my disguise would be before they left.

“Kaylen, it’s nice of you to join us,” Asher said, running his fingers through his slightly curly chestnut hair, his olive eyes meeting mine. A large smirk spread across his sculpted face. Charles laughed and moved his backpack aside, giving me room to sit.

“Thank you, Asher,” I replied sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

“Excited?” Asher asked with a lopsided grin. Charles leaned towards me listening for my answer, and I caught a whiff of the ocean. Both boys were best friends with my brother. Our families were friends, so we were basically family. But I understood that they were sacrificing a lot by traveling all the way to New Hampshire to be my bodyguards.

“Sure,” I joked sarcastically. Asher was probably trying to lighten the fact that I had been enraged when my parents had forced me to leave my home in England.

“English first, right?” Asher asked, a question flitting across his face before he took a bite of his food.

“Yes,” Charles responded before I could say anything.

“How are you doing?” Charles inquired as he picked at his food, looking at me.

“Good,” I lied before taking a bite into my steak. Sympathy flashed across his eyes.

“That’s good,” Asher said, frowning. He fell silent and seemed in deep thought. Breakfast continued with small talk about their families. The lunch bell rang, and we began to clean up. They both stood up and I remembered how tall they were. I was tall at five eleven, but both the boys towered over me with their tall, athletic builds. Asher stood at six foot six and was taller than Charles who was only six foot four. Charles headed off to his class, while Asher led me to ours. My parents had decided that having both boys in all my classes would cause some suspicion. So, they switched off what class they were in with me.

“Some girls throw themselves at us so you might want to watch out,” Asher said with a smirk as we walked through the hallway that was starting to get full.

“Yeah right,” I said as I walked beside him.

“You’d be surprised,” Asher said.

“I probably wouldn’t. A group of girls are heading our way,” I told him. I recognized the girl in front as the daughter of a guy who owned a huge firm.

“Asher,” she said in a syrupy voice. She was pretty but Barbie doll pretty. Too perfect. “Do you and Charles want to join us for lunch?” she asked.

“Sure, as long as my friend here can come,” he said. Her smile seemed to freeze, and she nodded and strutted away. “That girl is so insecure,” he muttered under his breath. We continued to class. When we arrived, a tall lady dressed in a knee length dress was waiting outside welcoming in students.

“Are you new?” she asked in a bright voice.

“Yes, I’m Kaylen Bowers,” I answered, shaking her hand. She looked like a nice teacher with her brown hair up in a bun and her pretty face with simple makeup.

“Oh yes. I remember hearing that I had a new student. Here, let me find you a seat,” she said, leading me into the classroom.

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