Except from “DreamReaper” by J.D. Miller

One portal closed and a new one opened. He tucked the knife into a boot, ready to step through, but a sudden change of heart persuaded the Silent Warrior to close the gateway. The evil smirk returned. Cheered by the intrigue of a cat and mouse game, his demon blood cooled and he retraced his steps through the dark castle. It was a perfect opportunity to practice his stealth, a skill where he had always excelled. Clan members seemed to be in short supply along the way, far less than he would have liked, but enough to challenge his creativity to engage and evade. Maybe Shera was telling the truth.

In no time, he stood in the circular main entry. Sun shone through huge glass windows set in the ceiling thirty feet above. In every direction was a hallway, each one a separate path with its own end. To his right was the hallway of the Judicial Caste, established to uphold fairness and justice within the clan. Banners hung along the hallway in colors that represented their charge; blue for integrity, white for purity, and gray for authority and strength of character. <em>Are they part of this as well? </em>

He glanced to his left. That hallway led to his healers and wielders of magic known as the Magi Caste. Their banners, in the earthy colors of brown and green, bore the symbol of power – a staff that flowed into a spiral tail. It also served as a haven for visiting honorary members of the clan, Ambassadors, fellow chieftains, whomever else the High Council deemed worthy.

In the northeast corner was the hallway of the Warrior Caste, where new recruits began their journey in the clan, soldiers trained to defend and protect. Their banners donned sword and shield in gray on a field of red and white. <em>Do they have any idea what they defend now?</em> The majority of the clan belonged to the Warrior Caste, but there were those that had risen to greater heights.

The BloodCore dwelled in the northwest portion of the castle; its hallways lined with banners of black and red, bearing a golden snake swallowing its tail. Considered by some as the deadliest warriors of the Alamir, they were battle proven gladiators held to a higher standard by the High Lord of Kaos. The mere mention of the caste name struck fear in the hearts of those they opposed. Like the other castes, their charge was the protection of the clan, but should a mutiny occur, much like what was happening now, the BloodCore was the last defense. He wondered on which side they would stand today.

Only one hallway called his name. Habit had him reach for his dual scimitars. “Tartarus.” His hands came up empty. “Plan B,” he muttered as he marched the path to the throne room. His wings arced and settled on his back.

The grand doors opened upon his approach. He had expected to find the clan within the great hall gathered together to watch his fall as chieftain in a show he was certain had been perfectly choreographed by his second-in-command. Instead, he was surprised to see Savage, alone, looking quite comfortable upon the throne, clad in the dark green armor she wore for special occasions. She looked quite becoming with her blonde hair braided and piled on top of her head, but it was not her usual style. Surprise shone in her grey-green eyes for a moment, but it quickly shifted to contempt. “What are you doing here?”

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