Reaper

The Reaper

 

Plot synopsis

"This is the end; the final reckoning. We are now at the crossroads of all that has gone before. For this world, the sun will rise or it will set. It is you against him; for one of you, there is no tomorrow." - Juquor.

Kal and Daine escaped through the Black Gate in the stone troll city of Urth to find themselves back in Kal's world in an abandoned fort in the middle of the ocean, the Reaper and his deadly arrochom hot on their heels.

Kal meets old friends and foes as he battles his way back from slavery to reach Murucia in a bid to see his father again. Daine is lost, trying to make sense of her life an assassin, caught between her father and her mother who sit on opposite sides of the war. And all the while, the Reaper is gathering an army to end the war he started a generation before.

Salvation or damnation awaits.

The Reaper is the thrilling conclusion to the Twin Worlds trilogy, an epic tale of swords and sorcery; travel and adventure; love and loss; good and evil. But most of all, a tale of adolescence and growing up.

EXCERPT:

Section 1.i (Kal)

He floated in darkness, drifting soundlessly across an invisible current. There was no time before this, no time after this. The present was all and it consumed him, pressing down, suffocating him, enveloping him in a thick black shroud. He did not breathe; he did not move; he merely existed.

But I do more than exist; I live.

The thought tore through the darkness like a streak of lightening, illuminating a path to a slit in the dark cloak that surrounded him and he willed his being towards it. At first, it resisted, holding him in its ethereal embrace, but he pushed harder and harder until it relented. The gap grew larger and the brightness so intense that he wished he could avert his gaze; but he was not looking through eyes. As he passed through the slit, the darkness fell away. Now there was only light.

He blinked.

The light was intense and he closed his eyes quickly. He lay face down on a hard surface. Small stones dug gently into his palms, chest and hips, and his back burned hot but he did not roll over. Sounds flittered down from around him but something inside, a deep instinct, told him not to make any sudden movements. He heard rough shouts and calls in a language he could not decipher that seemed to be getting louder.

I cannot just lie here.

He opened his eyes again, blinking furiously as the light bore into his skull. Squinting ahead, he could see a curved stone wall with four layers of arched walkways stretching up into a bright blue sky. It had clearly once been a magnificent piece of architecture but there was an overriding sense of decay about the place. The masonry was cracked and chipped, and more than one of the arches had buckled. The circular courtyard in which he lay alternated between baked earth and dusty stone. Small clumps of weeds grew up from the patches of earth, like brown snakes, their skin flaking, climbing up the first tier of arches. Many of the paving stones had been torn up, as though someone had been looking for a way out, although nothing but dark rock was exposed beneath.

He froze as a deep groan came from somewhere behind him.

What the hell was that?

He turned his head as slowly as he could, trying to make the motion as smooth as possible. A girl lay next to him, wearing a black suit that covered her from head to toe. Her face was turned away from him and a wooden quarterstaff was strapped to her back.

I know her.

He reached out a hand to touch hers but froze as a shout echoed around the courtyard. It was followed by another and dark shapes flitted between the columns, their voices more agitated now.

Kal knew who he was now. He pushed off the ground and gripped the girl by the shoulders.

Her name is Daine. And I have to get her out of here.

Section 1.ii (Daine)

She felt a great wrench; a sharp tug from an immeasurable distance that jerked her backwards. The darkness around her trembled and then it was still.

Something is trying to break in. Or break me out.

Another great wrench, this time more insistent causing her black shroud to shudder and then crack. A bright light pierced the gloom and she soared towards it. She heard a voice, hard and rough in her ear. Her fingers grazed against a hard surface and she tried to open her eyes, but the light seeping through was blinding. The voice again, more conciliatory; warning her of something. A firm pressure across her stomach.

Then the ground moved.

She rose away from the hard surface, bent in two at the waist. Her face collided with something softer, rebounding away, then bouncing back. There was no strength in her body. Urgent shouts and calls echoed around her but she could not make out the tongue. The air had a salty cleanliness that stung her nostrils, but it was tinged with mild decay and the musty sweat of the person carrying her which was somehow familiar. A wave of cold air washed over her just as a great roar erupted from somewhere overhead, followed by the sound of wood splintering. The light was weaker here and when she was felt the touch of cold stone on her legs and back, she opened her eyes to find herself in the corner of a cell, some ten paces square. Ahead of her, a figure dressed from head to toe in black was dragging the remnants of what might once have been a bed across the only entrance. His long blonde hair hid his face but as he succeeded in partially blocking the doorway, he turned to face her.

Her eyes snapped wide open.

I know you.

“Daine...” he began.

But she could already feel her grip on the room slipping away. He grabbed her face between his hands but his touch was little more than a gentle stroke like the breeze on her cheeks.

“...you have to fight it. Stay with me...”

His face swayed as the room about her pitched and buckled. She was being sucked backwards into her mind. Her brain whirred, the cogs of recognition spinning faster and faster.

The boy’s face split into a thousand different images.

And she was drowning.

 

madebyeggs || © 2017 Dominic H. King