The first thing you must understand is we loved what we did.

There was not one part of it that did not send joy coursing through our bodies. The fear as it thrummed under the ground of a small village, the heartbeat of a city as it fell to our power, the hard, fast drumbeat of our wings as they changed the course of the air when we soared.

The smell, the taste, of rich human blood. It was different than any Kindred I had feasted upon. Perhaps because we burned them. Smoky.

Is that perverse to say?

I can honestly say I don’t care.

That afternoon (or morning, it had gone on so long time had no consequence anymore), I threw my head back and laughed, harder than I’d ever laughed in my long life. The wind streaming through my face and hair, my sword in the meat of a human’s neck. More blood. So much blood. I wanted to bathe in it. Old stories had told us of humans that would soak in Kindred blood, would eat Kindred flesh, so that they too might unlock the secrets of immortality. Fools. Only Kindred can live this long, and deal this much death.

They were getting smarter, the humans. Fionn had told me, long before she passed, that she thought they’d end up creating their own type of magick. Not just ironstone, but other, deeper ways to get us and even up the sides on this war.

Is it a war, really, when one side annihilates and the other side rolls over and prays it ends quickly? That’s how we worked.

I was born to be part of this lineage. My mother was one of the Daughters, as was her mother, all the way back to the very formation of Theara. We needed the Daughters because the humans would never stop trying to kill us, my mother told me as I suited up for my first combat lessons. “You will be a gift to us,” my mother said. And I could feel that in the marrow of my bones.

Protect our people. Fight for our land. Fly amongst the stars.

I was one of the last in my class to earn my wings. It had been a hard, tiring road. Many a night I stayed up late, wondering how I’d ever do it. We had a visitor once, a woman with beautiful hair and wings that dragged across the ground when she loosed them. It made my small body quiver in jealousy. I wanted that so badly, that obvious marker of power. I heard that this woman was someone to be feared, but I felt so drawn to her that I made it my personal mission that when I became a Daughter, I would show her what I had become.

And I did. By the Mothers, I did.

I looked up and saw the familiar streak of black and gold cut across the sky. Her. The one I had longed so much to impress, now slicing into the smoke with strong, confident flaps of her wings. She was surveying our total dominance, as she always did. I let out a triumphant howl, cutting down another who tried to get in my way. Blood was everywhere. I relished it.

Anything in offering to Theara. Anything for our home.

I watched as our Daughter Prime, a being so powerful no one knew her true name, soar high and mighty, wings outstretched in joyful communion with the wind. The Daughter Prime was the ultimate intercessor between Mirtas and the world of Theara. A representation of the Goddess of Death, here, on earth.

I adored her. I would kill for her. I would raze every kingdom to the ground for her. Anything she did, I would want. Anything she had, I respected. Anything she asked of me, I would do happily.

Our Daughter Prime landed across the field, clutching Morning, her sword crafted from true Thearan steel. She let out a mighty scream. “All Daughters Rise!”

We lifted our weapons and screamed right back, a cry that surely sent chills to the bone of every human too dumb to run. Not that it would help.

Her voice shook the earth.

We would shake the earth.

Next Chapter: Chapter 1