Daughter of Moth (The Moth Saga, Book 4)

DAUGHTER OF MOTH

THE MOTH SAGA, BOOK FOUR

by

Daniel Arenson

Copyright © 2014 by Daniel Arenson

All rights reserved.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either
the product of the author's imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an electronic
or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the
author.

Table of Contents

 

FOREWORD

Daughter of Moth
is the fourth volume of
The Moth Saga
, continuing the tale of a world torn in two—one half always in sunlight, the other always dark. If you're new to the series, you'll probably still get the gist of things here, though I do recommend reading the first three books first:
Moth
,
Empires of Moth
, and
Secrets of Moth
.

Between chapters, you might like to visit the
Moth
website, where you can find: a large map (more detailed than the one in this ebook), original music, artwork, a
Moth
wiki, and more. Visit the website at:
DanielArenson.com/Moth

And now . . . let us reenter a world of light and darkness . . . 

 

 
 
CHAPTER ONE:
AN UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTER

The creaky, horse-drawn cart
trundled across the bridge, taking Madori away from her homeland and
old life.

Here
it is,
she thought and
took a shaky breath.
The
border.

The
Red River flowed beneath Reedford Bridge, beads of light gleaming
upon its muddy waters. The cart clattered over the last few bricks,
rolling off the bridge and onto the western riverbank. Madori
looked around her, expecting more of a change—a different landscape,
a different climate, at least a different shade of sky or scent to
the air. Yet the grass still rustled on the roadsides, green and lush
as ever. Elms, birches, and maples still grew upon the plains, and
geese still honked above. A wooden sign rising from a patch of
crabgrass, a crumbly old fortress upon a distant hill, and a twinge
to her heart were the only signs that they had left Arden behind,
entering this kingdom of magic and danger named Mageria.

Magic
and danger?
Madori
thought, raising her eyebrows. She had heard tales of dark sorcerers,
brooding castles swarming with bats, and creatures of both nightmares
and fairy tales. Sorcerers? She saw only two distant farmers toiling
in a turnip field. Brooding castles? The fort upon the hill—a mere
crumbly old tower—looked liable to collapse under a gust of wind.
Wondrous creatures? Madori didn't see anything wondrous about the
cattle that stared from the roadside, lazily chewing their cud and
flicking their tails. When Madori twisted in her seat to look behind
her, gazing across the Red River to the eastern plains, she couldn't
even distinguish between the two kingdoms—this new realm of magic
and her old homeland.

And yet . . . and yet this
was
a new world. She knew this. She felt it in her bones, even if she
couldn't see it. It wasn't in sorcerers or castles or creatures—it
was in the chill that filled her belly, the tremble that seized her
fingers, and the tightness in her throat.

I'm
leaving my home forever,
she thought as the cart trundled onward.
I
will find magic here. I will find a new life. And I don't intend to
return.

Sitting beside her in the cart,
her father patted her hand.

"Excited, Billygoat?"

Madori rolled her eyes. She
hated when he called her that. Her name was Madori Billy
Greenmoat—"Billy" after Bailey Berin, the great heroine of
the war whose statue stood outside the library back home. "Billygoat"
was just the sort of groan-worthy pun her father would come up with.

"No." She stared
forward over the head of their horse, an old piebald named Hayseed.
"I don't get excited about things. And
please
stop calling me that."

Her father smiled and Madori
groaned. It was a smile that practically patted her condescendingly
on the head.

A sigh ran through her. She knew
that her father was something of a legend in both halves of Moth,
this world split between endless day and eternal night. He was Sir
Torin Greenmoat, the famous war hero, the man who had fought in—and
eventually ended—the war between day and night. The world saw him as
a great warrior and peacemaker. But to Madori, he was simply her
dull, boring father with his little quips and infuriating smiles.

She looked at him. Torin didn't
even look like a hero. At thirty-eight years of age, the first
wrinkles were tugging at the corners of his eyes, and hints of white
were invading his temples and beard. He wasn't particularly tall,
handsome, or muscular. He wore a simple woolen tunic and cloak, and
he drove a humble cart pulled by Hayseed, an old horse no more
impressive. Despite being knighted years ago, he wore no jewels, and
soil hid under his fingernails. He didn't seem a warrior, a hero, a
knight—simply a gardener, which was how Madori had always known him.

She knew the tales of Torin
fighting in the great War of Day and Night, but that had all happened
before her birth. Madori was sixteen now, the war was long gone, and
to her, Torin Greenmoat was no hero but the most annoying man in both
halves of the broken world.

"Are you sure?" Torin
said, still smiling his little smile. "You look a little
nervous. You're traveling into a new kingdom. You're going to try and
gain admission to Teel University, the most prestigious school in the
sunlit half of Moth. You're leaving everything you've ever known
behind. You—"

Madori groaned. "Father!
For pity's sake. Are you trying to get me to kill you? You're worse
than Mother."

His eyes widened. "What?
Never!"

"Mother scolds me nonstop,
but you just smile and hint. That's a lot worse."

Torin grunted. "If your
mother were here, she'd have spent the trip berating you about your
clothes, your haircut, and your Qaelish lessons. You know that. Be
thankful I'm the one taking you on this journey."

Madori had to admit he was
probably right. Father was perhaps more embarrassing than britches
split down the backside, but Mother was a terror. Koyee of Qaelin was
as much a legend as Torin, and
she
actually acted like it.

While Torin was a Timandrian—a
man of sunlight, his hair dark, his skin tanned—Koyee was an
Elorian, a woman of the night. Her hair was long and white, her skin
pale, her lavender eyes as large as chicken eggs. Koyee stood only
five feet tall, but Madori thought her more terrifying than any
warrior.

"Why do you wear this
rubbish?" Koyee would say, tugging at Madori's clothes. "Why
don't you wear proper Elorian dresses? And your hair! I've never seen
a young woman with nonsensical hair like that. And your
Qaelish—stars above, you've been neglecting your lessons. This turn
you will read your Qaelish poetry books until you memorize them."

"I'm not Elorian!"
Madori would say. "My hair is black. My skin is tanned bronze. I
don't want to dress or talk or look like an Elorian, all right,
Mother? Now will you—"

That's about as far as Madori
would ever get. A slap usually silenced her, followed by screams,
tears, and finally long hours in her bedroom, forced to study the
language of the night.

Sitting on the cart, far away
from her distant village near the darkness, Madori shuddered. She
looked down at her clothes, which she had sewn herself. She wore a
violet tunic over purple leggings, and leather boots heavy with many
buckles rose to her knees—clothes strange in both day
and
night. Her hair, she knew, drew even more perplexed stares. She cut
it herself, shearing it so short she could barely grab the strands
between her fingers. She left only two long strands on top, both
sprouting just above her forehead; they fell down to her chin,
framing her face.

"I already look strange
because of my mixed blood," Madori would often tell her mother.
"I might as well have strange clothes and a strange haircut."

The argument never worked, but
Madori thought it apt. Even if she wore proper Timandrian clothes—a
skirt and blouse—or proper Elorian clothes—a slim, silken
qipao
dress and embroidered sash—she'd look out of place. She had
inherited some Timandrian traits from her father. Her hair was black,
not white like the hair of Elorians, and her skin was tanned, not
pale like a child of darkness. But nobody would mistake her for a
full-blooded Timandrian. Her Elorian blood—the blood of
darkness—was clear to all. She was slim and short, barely standing
five feet tall—normal perhaps in the darkness, but diminutive in the
daylight. Most obvious were her eyes—they shone a gleaming lavender,
large as owl eyes in her small, round face. A tattoo of a
duskmoth—one wing black, the other white—adorned her wrist, a
symbol of her two halves, of a soul torn between day and night.

A mixed-child. A child of both
daylight and darkness. Perhaps the only one in the world.

And
so I will seek a new home,
Madori thought, throat tight.
A
place where I'm accepted.

The taunts rang through her
memory, cutting her like icy daggers.

Mongrel!

Freak!

Creature!

As old Hayseed pulled the cart
along, leaving their homeland behind, the pain still lingered inside
Madori. She lowered her head and clenched her fists in her lap.
Fairwool-by-Night, her old village, lay in the daylight near the
border of darkness. Grown near the shadows, its people feared the
night. Fairwool's children had spent years shoving Madori into the
mud, spitting onto her, and mocking her mixed blood. Madori never
told her parents—a father of sunlight and a mother of
darkness—about how the other children treated her. She knew it would
break their hearts.

And
so now I'm leaving that home,
she thought, and her eyes stung—those damn eyes that were twice the
size of anyone else's here in daylight. Fairwool-by-Night was a
backwater, a forgotten village full of ignorant fools; the entire
kingdom of Arden was a land of fools.

But Mageria...

Madori looked down the road, and
a tingling smile tugged at her lips. Ahead, the plains led to misty
hills and a hidden world of wonder. Here was a new kingdom—only
another kingdom of daylight, it was true, but a land of magic
nonetheless. People here were educated, unlike at home, and they
would accept Madori. At Teel University she wouldn't be simply a
mixed-breed from a humble village. At Teel she would learn the
secrets of magic. She would become a mage. She would grow strong.

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