Prologue

New beginnings lie ahead

What good could come from all this bloodshed

     Our story begins in Castelluccio, Italy, where it was five minutes till midnight and there wasn’t a cloud in sight, as a cool breeze blew by making the poppies, rapeseed and wild flowers dance. The pale moonlight shone down on a strange looking group of people who had gathered in the colourful valley that lay just outside the rustic Italian village. They’d gathered for a momentous occasion and an important milestone for the Dalca’s oldest son.

     The boy stood with his family; a baby brother, his little sister and his parents. They all waited patiently as the elders prepared for the ceremony that would reveal the boy’s destiny. Seeing how nervous her son was, the boy’s mamma placed her hand on his shoulder and gave him a smile that radiated with pride for her little boy.

     It was two minutes till midnight when the elders were ready to begin the ceremony. The boy gave each of his family members a kiss on the cheek and a quick hug before taking his place in the middle of the circle of elders.

     The elders wore long black robes and dour expressions as they joined hands, and began mumbling something incoherent under their breaths. The chief elder stepped forward and the wind suddenly ceased, time seemingly stopping outside of the circle.

    “State your name and family lineage,” the chief elder commanded, his voice bleak and cold.

    “Sebastian Dalca, of the Destin lineage,” the boy answered timidly.

     The chief raised his hands up to his shoulders then extended them forwards, palms flexed like he was pushing the air in front of him. “Sebastian, you bear the mark of the Destin lineage as your ancestors have. Now, you shall wear it till the end of your days,” he pronounced as his eyes fluttered shut.

     All of a sudden, an unbearable pain flared up Sebastian’s back like someone was carving into it. He cried out in pain and fell to his knees.

     “Midnight has struck and you now bear the mark of your family lineage!”

     The pain went from unbearable to unfathomable, and Sebastian screamed as his body writhed in agony. His shoulders hunched forwards and his head hung limp. He began to black out only to wake up a few seconds later, cry out, and black out once more.

     The wind had picked back up and now it howled, blowing the beautiful flowers in every which way. Inky black clouds began to form and swirled overhead, as the sky rumbled with thunder.

     The elder’s eyes fluttered open and widened with fear. A bolt of lighting struck down between him and Sebastian, and the elder took a step back in surprise. “No, that can’t be! That can’t possibly be you!”

     Sebastian stared at the elder with tears streaming down his face, the pain making it hard to understand what he was saying. He silently prayed for the pain to stop.

     “Sebastian Dalca, you shall bring on the end of days! You will damn us all!”

     “No! That can’t be my fate. You must have gotten something wrong. Please! Please, tell me that that’s not true!”

     “It’s what’s written on your back, there is no changing it! However,” the elder bellowed.

     Suddenly, the wind stopped howling and the clouds parted, allowing a bright light to shine inside of the circle. It looked as if the gates of Heaven had been opened. An uneasy calmness washed over Sebastian and the pain had subsided to a dull ache, making it tolerable to stand on his feet.

     The elder’s face looked gaunt from the strange light that came from above. “You shall show great promise, and will live up to your family lineage. You shall save us all from perdition by bringing peace.”

     “How?” Sebastian asked. “How can I bring on the end of the world, yet bring peace to it?”

     The chief elder opened his mouth to reply, but he was cut short by a blade that shot out from his chest. He looked down in surprise before he collapsed to the ground as the blade unsheathed itself from his chest. A tall cloaked figure stood in front of Sebastian, his blade dripping with blood.

    Their eyes glowed silver and they had black eye shadow smudged underneath them. The figure waved their hand and as if on command, an arrow was fired through the heart of every elder, and they all fell to the ground one by one like dominoes.

     As if a spell had been broken, the clouds and the strange light disappeared all together, and the wind was blowing gently like it had before. Sebastian looked beyond the cloaked figure to see each of his family member’s throats slashed except for his papa’s.

     “Run, Sebastian!” his papa cried, as he reached out to his son. “Get as far away from here as you ca-” he managed to say before his voice was silenced by the quick slice of a blade.

     Sebastian stared in horror as his father fell to the ground, next to the rest of his family. He backed away from the cloaked figure, his knees still weak from the pain he had just endured. He was surround by other cloaked figures and he had nowhere else to run, or so they thought.

     Removing the pendant that his papa had given him on one of his past birthdays, he threw it on the ground and crushed it with his foot. In the blink of an eye, Sebastian had vanished.

     “Where did he go?” one of the cloaked figures hissed.

     The figure who had stabbed the chief elder in the back, pulled out a black cloth and wiped the blood off of the blade. “Wherever he went, he couldn’t have gone far.”

     With his blade wiped, he threw the cloth on the ground and set it on fire, burning the flowers around it. “Send out the Barghests, they should be able to find his location with ease. They might even finish the job for us.”

     The other cloaked figure nodded his head in understanding, and barked out something harshly in a foreign language to the others. A piercing howl suddenly echoed throughout the valley, their cries foretelling death. The death of Sebastian Dalca.

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