The Grey God (Prologue: The Schism, page 1 of 19)

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Day of the Schism

Immortal World

White God's Hall

The White God, Darian, strode through his marble halls, the soft footfalls of his leather boots the only sound in the imperial corridor. He trotted down the stairs from his palace to the apple orchard that stretched from his home to the imperial city beyond. The sun peered over the ocean to the north while blooming apple trees sprinkled their flowers into piles in a cool sea breeze. His closest friend and advisor, the Original Immortal Jule, waited for him atop a horse.

"Late," Jule said, a smile on his dark features. The colorful tattoos on his body told stories of great battles in artful, geometric writing.

"A god is never late," Darian replied. He pulled himself up onto the horse beside his friend's. His personal Guardians trailed at a respectful distance, out of earshot but close enough if something happened. "One day, you'll understand."

"The lure of a woman?"

"The lure of the perfect woman. Sensual, sweet, beautiful."

"A king needs a warrior, not a doll," Jule teased.

"Not this king. And she can fight, the perfect minx."

"If you say so. I've yet to meet one who could have me mewling at her feet the way you mewl at Claire's."

Darian smiled. The entire imperial city knew how taken he was with his mate. The eldest of any of the White Gods to mate, he'd been lauded with celebrations for days upon the announcement that he'd chosen a bride. He was glad he'd waited for the right partner rather than ceding to his advisors' desire for him to mate just to produce an heir.

"Her father, though, I wouldn't trust as far as the beach is from here," Jule added. "Still shady."

"I keep him occupied with assignments I tell him are important," Darian said with a snort.

They reached the beach, and Darian saw his young brother wielding a sword in complex weapons forms.

"He wants to be like his older brother," Jule said, amused. "How old is he now? Sixteen?"


"And you haven't mated him off to some powerful House?"

"He hasn't the temper for a woman yet. He'll be a warrior, methinks," Darian said. "Probably a solitary warrior."

Jule chuckled, as aware of the youth's temper as Darian was.

"Looks good, little brother," Darian called as they approached.

The tall, stringy youth with white-blond hair turned to face them. His face split into a large smile, and he waved the sword in the air.

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