Authors: Jonathan Yanez
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Occult, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Teen & Young Adult
By Jonathan Yanez
Copyright © 2013 by Jonathan Yanez. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: January 2014
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
For my mom who taught me how to read, and for the many trips to the library thereafter.
Table of Contents
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
“You do understand, Christof, in times of war, sacrifices have to be made. The doctor wanted to give him back his eyes, but during the process, he also served as a perfect opportunity for us to test the virus. A virus that, now thanks to his trial run, is working.”
“Of course, my lord. Faust volunteered for the operation, after all. If he knew that the virus was now operational, I’m sure he would have been pleased to make the sacrifice.”
Vercin tilted his head toward the man, who shuddered under his gaze. “War will be on us soon, Christof, and it helps me sleep at night to know that you and
of your family are on our side and will be ready when the time comes.”
Christof seemed pleased at the comment but caught onto Vercin’s emphasis on the word “most.” “I know Randolph has gone to the other side with a small number of our family, but rest assured they will be dealt with just like the others. We hold no strings of loyalty to traitors, family or not. I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you that you can count on me when the fighting comes. You have my sword and shield.”
Vercin grinned. Christof himself was a small man but the fact that he had brought so many members of the blue-eyed Elite race with him, was impressive. He was disposable, of course, but he was serving a purpose as of now.
Vercin turned his gaze in the dark room to where the third member in their party stood. She was staring out the window into the dark night that surrounded their camp.
“And you, Julie? The men are in place?”
Julie continued to stare out the window but she shifted at the sound of her name. “Yes, they are infiltrating the governments of this world as we speak. Only the best and brightest, hand chosen by myself and all loyal to you, loyal to a fault.”
Vercin could sense the worry in her tone, the edge of impatience that came with her words. “I know how much you want to attack. How it burns you inside to not be able to be with your daughter. We will go soon. You’ll have the opportunity to get her back and exact your revenge on Morrigan Hayes.”
Morrigan’s name made Julie turn suddenly, her blue eyes black with hate, the robe she wore twisting around her like a swirl of smoke. Vercin noticed Christof take a step forward, his hand on the hilt of his sword as if he was going to step between the two.
He’s more of an idiot than I imagined,
Vercin thought as he watched the man with amusement.
Julie could kill him with a flick of her wrist. Well, at least he’s a loyal idiot.
Vercin rose from his chair, motioning for Christof to step back. He crossed the short distance to Julie and placed a hand on her trembling shoulder. “You have been patient. The time is coming soon but we must lure them off of The Island they deem so safe. To do that we must have strategy first in our minds. Bloodshed will come soon after.”
Julie calmed as the most powerful Elite in history comforted her with his words and promises of retribution.
Vercin walked over to a small table that stood next to the door to his private office and let his fingers play across the checkered board of his favorite game, chess. He spoke to both Christof and Julie but his eyes never left the black and white marble pieces. “It’s all a game. You both know that, a game that must be thought out ahead, one move at a time. Connor will come when he learns what we have done, a passage to The Island will be obtained, and then, then my warriors, we will kill them all.”
The beach was cold, lonely. With each step his feet sank into the sand like they were being sucked into the very earth itself. No light tonight. The clouds blotted out any illumination that could be offered by either stars or moon.
They ran quietly, three shadows, three ghosts more than men. The spot on the beach had been chosen because the sounds from crashing waves covered their presence. The castle was only a few miles down the beach.
Hunched over, they ran. So low to the ground their hands could touch the sandy floor if they so chose. They traversed the dark beach quickly and headed to the castle, each step hurried by the possibility that they were already too late.
Their eyes were wary, moving faster than their legs, scanning for any hint of danger, of the slightest movement that would tip them off to the fact their arrival had not been overlooked.
As the beach narrowed, all three men rounded a corner. The huge dark shape they knew to be the castle rose in front of them, the castle where she was being held.
Each of the three men running across the dark beach was consumed by his own thoughts.
One of the three was filled with anger and bloodlust. Anger for what had been done to his family and the bloodlust to take his vengeance through death and destruction.
The next had his mind focused on the task at hand. He was poised. He was ready for anything. It was not his first time on a mission but it had been a very long time. A veteran to handling things in the Elite world, he was focused and calm.
The third and last member of the group knew he should be focused on what was going on in the here and now but he couldn’t. Despite what he was doing and what he was about to do, he couldn’t stop replaying the conversation he was part of just an hour before.
“Great speech, Judge. I definitely think you won over some hearts and minds.”
“Thanks, Kat. I hope so. I—I have to get going now, they’re waiting for me, but I wanted to talk to you before I left.”
Katie bit her lower lip before she started. “I know. You have to go rescue Laren and make sure her brother doesn’t kill himself in the process. And you want to finally have that talk now, don’t you. I mean
Connor’s brown eyes had never looked so sad. He glanced around his small room in the palace as he started the conversation he would do anything to avoid. The only reason he was broaching the subject was for her. It was because she deserved to know the truth no matter what. “I know our lives have been a whirlwind since both of us found out who are parents really are and about the Elite race.”
Katie nodded. Her eyes were already as sad as his. She knew where this was going but she held her tongue and waited for him to finish.
Connor cleared his throat and looked at her. “When you broke up with me I was devastated. I thought that it would always hurt, that the hole you left could never be filled. And it can’t. I can never replace you. That’s why I hope when we’re done talking we can still be friends. I mean, if we can still be friends. I would give anything not to have this conversation, but you deserve to know that I’ve made up my mind and I know that I’m in love with Laren.”
Connor stopped, waiting for a reaction. He wasn’t sure how Katie would take the news. He had run through numerous scenarios, some ending well, others ending horribly wrong. Katie was, after all, a sorceress now. She had powers she was only beginning to understand. Connor would have rather had her eyes turn black and fangs sprout from her mouth than what actually happened next.
Katie’s eyes began to water but she refused to shed a tear. Instead, she wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve. “I knew you would choose her and I have no one to blame but myself. I should have never let you go. I had my chance and I ruined it.” She hesitated. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course. Anything.”
“How do you know you love her? I mean, why now, as you’re about to leave to rescue her?”
Connor took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve known I liked her for a long time. I’ve always felt drawn to her and connected, but it wasn’t until I had to face the thought of spending a future without her that I realized how much I cared for and even loved her. I wanted to tell you now. It’s not fair to string you along once I know that you and I are going to remain friends—we’re still friends, right?”
It killed him the way she looked at him. Katie’s blonde hair fell on either side of her temples and her blue eyes were swimming in water as she controlled her breathing, took two steps towards him, and embraced him in a hug.
“Connor Moore, you couldn’t lose me as a friend if you tried. Thank you for being honest and I sincerely hope you find Laren alive and well. I’ve already offered to go with you but Morrigan says I’m not ready.”
Connor embraced Katie, both muscular arms wrapping around her slender frame. “I know you would come if you could. Thank you, Katie, for understanding and for being such a great friend.”
The two stood still in the room, both thinking about the past and the memories they would always share, at the same time confronting the future and the different roles they would now play in each other’s life.
“She’s a lucky girl to have you,” Katie said as she reluctantly separated herself from Connor. “I hope she knows that. Now get going. I’m sure the others are waiting for you.”
Connor nodded, his soft black hair bouncing on his head. Words caught in his throat as he made his way to the door. There were things he still wanted to say, comforting words to try and ease Katie’s pain, but he knew it was better if he went. She would have to deal with this in her own way and with all of their past history he probably wasn’t the best person to offer her a shoulder to cry on.
Connor grabbed the cold metal knob, opened the door, and left. He walked alone down the hall through palace. The palace on The Island was huge, and to the first-time visitor, was a labyrinth of rooms and halls, but this wasn’t Connor’s first visit, and he traversed the palace like a true native.
Soft rugs always underfoot and ornate statues and pictures every few feet, Connor was struck by the noise level the palace now boasted. On his first trip to the palace when he was tasked with bringing back The Island’s crown, he was one of only a handful of visitors. Connor shuddered as memories of his second trial and the fight with The Island’s King, Zheng, brought back phantom pain in his left shoulder, the same shoulder that had violently been ripped from its socket during the fight. Back then the palace was quiet, almost eerie. Today the palace was alive with noise and Connor was surprised he had made it this far down the hall without seeing anyone.
The five Elite families had been called to The Island to pay allegiance to the new Judge. Orion and Morrigan had been opening portals all day for those who would join Connor in the fight against Vercin. Zheng had generously offered his palace to the entire Elite population, welcoming anyone that would join the fight against the strongest Elite history had ever known.
Connor soon entered the main hall and was surprised at what met his eyes. The hall was packed with Elites from every family. They all talked amongst each other in varying tones of conversation. Most were dressed in normal everyday clothes, although there were a few who had already donned gear for battle. Swords hung loosely at hips, shields leaned against walls, spears supported their owners, and this was to just name a few. It struck Connor as almost comical as he witnessed hoodies and pullovers in the same groups as boiled leather and tempered steel breastplates.
Connor politely squeezed through the throng of attendees on his way to the doors and the outside courtyard. He nodded were he could, said a “hello” where he had to, but his main goal was to reach the courtyard and the waiting raiding party outside. Lu was bound to be angry at his late arrival. He had wanted to go the second he found out where Laren was being held, as did Connor, but preparations had to be made.
Connor cringed before he turned around, not at the owner of the voice but the fact that he would be held just a little longer from his destination. He was the Judge now and politics were going to be just as important as power in the coming days. “Hello, Miyanda. Tarana, thank you for coming so quickly and for bringing your warriors. And—no words I have can say how sorry I am for your loss.”
Miyanda spread her full lips in an attempt at a smile and Tarana nodded politely. Zuna, Miyanda’s grandmother and Tarana’s mother had been killed at the hands of Vercin’s sorceress.
“Thank you, Connor,” Tarana said. “She wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was always a fighter. I only wish her gift of sorcery had been passed down so we could be of more use in the days to come.”
Connor shook his head. “Just being here, you two are already a tremendous help. I know that more will consider joining our ranks once they hear that we have your support.”
Taran smiled graciously.
“You’re going after her now, aren’t you?” Miyanda asked.
“What if you run into Vercin? Are you ready?”
Connor hesitated at the honest but blunt question. “Ready or not, I have to go now.”
Miyanda opened then closed her mouth as her mother spoke. “Go, go ahead. I know how eager you must be. Be careful, Connor Moore.”
“I will. Thank you, both of you.”
Connor turned and reached the entrance to the palace without further delay. He slid through the doors, greeted by a cool breeze and a nearly set sun. The courtyard was also filled with Elites and in the middle of the scene, Connor saw his father, Caderyn, trying to calm a very frustrated Lu. Tuning into his enhanced Elite hearing, Connor picked up their conversation even as he walked towards them.
“Calm down, Lupus. If Connor said it would only take a few minutes, then he’ll be here anytime now,” Caderyn said.
Lu ran a thick hand through his recently cut Mohawk haircut. “Well, he better hurry. He talked me into waiting this long but I won’t wait much longer.”
“Listen, I know how worried you are about your sister, but we have a better chance of getting her back alive and safe if we have a plan and we keep calm.”
“I have a plan. I plan to go in there and kill all of them. Every man Vercin has stationed at the castle… and if he’s there too, all the better.”
Connor saw his father raise a grey eyebrow. “Trust me, an all out fight with Vercin is not what we want now. What’s most important is your sister. We can worry about Vercin later.”
Lu was about to open his mouth to retort when Connor caught him sniffing the air and he wheeled around. “About time. What took you so long? You know what? It doesn’t matter. You’re here now, so we can go.”
Lu turned and addressed the other two members in their party, Orion and Morrigan. “Little Bo Peep finally decided to show up. Let’s get this started.”
Orion and Morrigan, like the rest of them, were dressed in black clothes and robes. It had been decided that a night attack would be the best course of action and one in which they had the best chance of success.
Morrigan gave Lu a disapproving look and smiled as Connor joined the rescue party. “All set, Connor?”
Connor nodded, taking the black robe she handed him and draping it across his shoulders. “Yes, sorry I’m late.”
“No worries.” Orion winked with his one good eye. “We needed a break, anyway. Opening and closing all of these portals to The Island is exhausting. I need a raise.”
Morrigan stifled a laugh as she looked at Orion. “One more time?”
Orion smiled through his thick beard and offered Morrigan his right hand after a deep bow. “May I have this dance?”
Morrigan accepted by locking her fingers with his own and soon crackling energy cut through all noise in the courtyard. Everyone watched, transfixed by the gorgeously dangerous sight.
Orion was the ferryman, tasked with bringing travelers to and from The Island. Morrigan was one of only a few sorceresses that remained, and when the two so chose, they could create a portal that linked The Island with the rest of the known world. Soon the crackling beside them widened and a window was opened about the same height as a door but twice as wide. On the other side of the window, where the rest of the courtyard of the palace should have been, stood an entirely different scene.
Sand stretched underfoot as far as the eye could see and a noise of waves crashing could be heard loud and clear. They were being transported to a beach on the Shetland Island were Laren was being held against her will.
There were shouts from the Elite crowd around them.
“Bring her back safe!”
“Kill them all!”
Lu was the first through, followed by Caderyn and Connor. It wasn’t Connor’s first time stepping through a portal but still he tensed as he walked through. He expected to feel something. A jolt? A cold chill? But just like before there was nothing. He simply took another step in the palace’s courtyard but instead of his foot hitting hard stone ground, it sunk into sand.
There was a loud snap that echoed through the air as Morrigan and Orion also stepped through and closed the portal behind them.
“If Julie is here then Vercin will know that we have arrived,” Morrigan advised. “Sorceresses can sense when a portal has been opened nearby.”
Caderyn nodded as the group huddled on the beach. It reminded Connor of a football huddle he had participated in so many times before. Unlike a football huddle, however, someone’s life now hung in the balance. Someone he cared for very much.
“Morrigan, you and Orion will hold here and make sure that we have an exit when we get back,” Caderyn said. “More than likely we’ll be coming fast, so be ready.”
Connor could see in both Morrigan and Orion’s eyes that they would have rather come but they both nodded obediently. “Lu, Connor, stay low and stay together. We have the element of surprise with us now but that can be lost in a moment if we’re not careful.”
The sun was down now and the sky dark as Connor looked at his father, nodding. He was beginning to really like the father he had never known and he wasn’t even having to try. His father had a similar build as himself with a close cut grey and white beard and long hair that was pulled back into a ponytail.
“Let’s get going,” Lu said, pulling his hood tightly around his face. “There’s blood to be spilled.”