Of Dreams and Sorcery (Royal Fae Guardians #1) - Heather Renee

Chapter One

Watching a talking owl fly through a lavender-colored sky while he mumbled about how stubborn I was under his breath was the highlight of my evening. Mostly because it was still hard to believe what I was seeing was real, but also because it was a distraction from the anxiety that flowed through me.

It was my last night visiting with Stryx in the secret realm the owl had magically dragged my conscience to nearly every night for the last year.

He swooped down and landed on my outstretched hand. “Let’s take a walk.”

“Uh, oh. You have your serious voice on. What’s wrong?” I asked, knowing the humor I had toward my unique situation drove him nuts, but that was what he got for keeping so many secrets.

His beady eyes narrowed at me, and his white silky feathers bristled. “Don’t be smart with me when you’re just upset this is the last night of your true human existence. It’s your own fault if you feel like you failed to make the most out of your time left on Earth. It’s not like I didn’t give you enough warning.”

I scoffed. “My fault? First, stay out of my head. Second, how about you overworked me with your never-ending to-do lists?” Not only was Stryx able to speak out loud, but my feathered friend could also read my thoughts. Annoying, but true.

Though, our banter was endless, and I loved it. It was what kept me from losing my composure as I acknowledged there were things that I couldn’t know yet but needed to be prepared for anyway. I wasn’t big on surprises, so it had been a hard pill to swallow, but I’d managed it over time.

“I’d like to show you something if you’re done being difficult,” Stryx hooted, then flew from my hand back toward the clear skies.

“Oh, really? Are you going to break some more rules, my little friend? I thought I wasn’t allowed to be anywhere but these hills.” Inside the realm Stryx brought me to each night was a replica of another world I would soon be visiting called Arvayta. The problem was that I wasn’t supposed to know anything about the place until my magic was released, so Stryx never let me leave the grassy knolls to see the world my family was from.

His wise eyes, black with flecks of silver, peered down at me. They were never judging but usually encouraging me to be better and stronger than I was the day before. “Just follow me.”

Even though he was a talking animal, I finally accepted that I wasn’t hallucinating after a few weeks of knowing him and took a leap of crazy faith to trust the creature who had since become one of the most important people in my life.

Yes, I knew he wasn’t an actual person, but other than having feathers and no hands, he pretty much acted like one. Sarcasm and all.

His beak snapped at me, bringing my attention back to him when I hadn’t immediately followed, and I began to walk as he spoke, flying only a few feet above me. “With your birthday tomorrow, you’re going to know a lot of this anyway, so I don’t count it as rule breaking, per se. Just a bit of information to ease you into what comes next.”

My hand stroked his wing as I realized there was an important question I’d yet to ask, mostly because I was afraid of the answer, but I needed to know before there wasn’t time to find out. “Will you still be around after tonight?”

“Things will be different, but yes, I will meet you in Arvayta after you’ve settled in with your parents and Jordan. They’ll all be going with you, so it’s not like you’ll be alone.”

That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for, but it was better than never seeing him again. As I pressed my sweaty palms against my shirt, I calmed my beating heart, reminding myself that everything would be okay. Whatever came next, I’d figure out a way to get through all of the craziness.

“So, what is this information you have?” I asked, trying to get back on track since my mind was a hot mess at the thought of my impending nineteenth birthday.

“Well, you know how I’ve mentioned your family originated from the fae, but after centuries, the magic of the originals was changed into something else, something less fae and more hybrid which resulted in most of the Arvaytan population that’s alive today?”

My head nodded,