When an unstoppable evil force known only as ‘the Reaper’ seeks to break into Kal’s world, his life becomes intrinsically linked to that of Daine, a ruthless female assassin. Boy and girl must face challenges both together and apart if Kal is to save his father who lies in a chamber far away, and Daine is to discover why she has been called away from everything she has ever know.
Kal must travel further than he has ever been before, alone, except for the sporadic guidance of his father’s best friend, the mysterious Juquor. Relentlessly pursued by the deadly Arrochom, he must show maturity beyond his years to fight prejudice, solitude and the fears that cramp his every waking moment if he is to find a way back to his father.
Daine finds herself in another world, ripped from the comfort of the profession that is all she has ever known, unable even to converse with those around her. Confronted with feelings from a missing adolescence and forced to learn everything she once knew again, she must battle with her gender and revisit painful memories if she is to find purpose and quell the daemons that stalk her dreams. Read an excerpt below.
“You must get back. He is coming–the evil one. You must be gone before he arrives.”
The old man called to him, but his mind felt heavy and sluggish. Great trees and fields of corn burned. Children ran screaming, their faces contorted with fear. A dark presence rose up, high as a mountain, blotting out the sun.
“Do you hear me? Help is on the way but you must get back!”
The boy awoke with a start. Cold stone bit into his back and he raised himself onto his hands. As he did so, a flash of pain erupted from his leg and looking down he saw that the right leg of his hair trousers was wet with blood. His vision blurred and he tried to focus on his surroundings. A great stone chamber engulfed him, hollow except for thirteen pillars which formed an inner-circle. A shaft of light fell from an unseen hole in the cavern ceiling, flooding the centre of the chamber with a pale, ghostly green translucence.
Is it illuminating something? Or someone?
He became aware of an unseen force; a howling, gusting gale that he felt in the depths of his soul. It bounced around the chamber, wailing and screeching, cutting and biting. But yet nothing stirred.
Lying in utter darkness some twenty paces outside this circle, the boy groaned, raising himself into a sitting position and squinted ahead, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his leg. A man lay prone on the cavern floor; his naked body looked frail, brittle. The boy could make out a deeply lined, lightly bearded face and something stirred inside of him.
Is this the man from my dream?
Have I been entombed? Or am I dead?
He thought he should check on the old man, but he was scared.
The air was heavier than usual, as though unwilling to allow either heat or rain to escape. Following a deluge the girl thought would never end, dark clouds still swirled menacingly overhead, as though forewarning her of danger. She had scouted the area and found nothing, but the stillness made her wary.
Could it be a trap?
She kept her senses sharp, mind alert for any signs of company. There was only a small window of time to complete the mission. She had to get in and out without being seen. There was no back-up, no friends to ride to her rescue if things went wrong. But she always worked alone. That was the way she liked it. That was the way she had been taught.
She straightened slowly, trying to ease the stiffness out of her legs, and craned her neck around the low stone hut she had been crouching behind since the sun had gone down. It looked like the Reaper’s army had moved on but a deep sense of foreboding gripped her. She must be gone before they returned. She made one final scan of the area from her hiding place before gliding away across the sodden earth. The evening was stiflingly muggy under the blackened sky which offered just the faintest tinge of murky moonlight to guide her. She would not make a sound, she had been taught by the best.
But then I am the best they have ever seen.
She crept forward, eyes fixed on the low stone entrance, senses straining for any sign of an ambush. The landscape was bleak and barren. All living things had either escaped or died trying. Charred remains of what might have been the villagers smouldered around her and she tried to block out the stinging, nauseating stench of burnt flesh that seared her nostrils as she crossed towards the low entrance to the chamber hewn smoothly out of the black rock.
Get in, get out. It was a job. Nothing more. It was how she survived.