So without a further ado, here's an excerpt from Angel of Shadow, Wormwood's, upcoming sequel. I hope you enjoy it!
ANGEL OF SHADOW - Excerpt from Chapter 9
One of the men snorted, but none of them so much as looked at me. All their attention was focused on Tiamat, sprawled across the bank behind me.
My Shadow surged in from all sides, slipping over the rocks and dirt to gather at my feet. I could feel its anticipation, its energy wound like a coiled spring. This, I knew, was not the same shadow that had attacked us earlier, invading our bodies and clouding my thoughts. I knew it in my bones—this shadow was mine. But its intentions were as black as its colour. It thirsted for death and yearned to harm. That was its purpose. It poured up my leg and swirled around the inky black of my hand and forearm, folding in on itself as it pressed into my skin.
I tore my eyes from it. One of the men was almost beside me, his expression changing to one of satisfaction. He had a clear shot. Chest puffed up, he squinted an eye and started to pull the trigger...
I lashed out at him, kicking his arm an instant before the gun went off. The shot missed, slamming into the water to Tiamat’s left. Too close... I backhanded the man across the face, almost forgetting my new strength, and sent him flying head-first into the dirt ground. But by attacking him, I had exposed Tiamat. The others moved in like vultures, multiple guns raised at once...
I spun to face them, thrusting an obsidian hand in their direction and willing my shadow to release. “Get back!” I yelled. My voice echoed through the cavern just as a wall of ebony slammed into them. As much as I wished to control it, it was like holding a great beast on a paper leash. I tried to pull back, but the weak restraints severed. The Shadow barrelled into them, throwing each man forcefully away. As its victims lay sprawled around the cavern, it coiled back, preparing to strike the fatal blow. It wanted blood ... pain...
I wanted it...
“No!” I raged. I reached my mind out to my Shadow again, and driving my hands apart in imitation of the breast stroke, I imagined dissipating the stuff and forcing it away. To my surprise, the black mist parted easily, swirling off to either side and disappearing into the folds of the dark. Feelings of frustration washed over me, though I knew they were not my own. I clenched my jaw, not caring how it felt. If it only wanted to kill, my Shadow would have to learn to live with disappointment.
Shoving those thoughts aside, I spun to face Tiamat. He lay exactly where I had left him, and appeared otherwise unharmed. I let my breath out in a puff of relief, and turned to look at the other men instead. They lay scattered in a rough semi-circle around me, unmoving.
“Damn it,” I hissed under my breath. “Damn bloody fools.” I approached the first one beside me, the one I had hit with a backhand. A pink splotch bloomed on his cheekbone, and upon further investigation, he appeared to be simply unconscious. One by one, I checked on all the men that lay sprawled across the damp rocks of the cavern. The others, thankfully, were in much the same shape as the first man. Aside from waking up with some serious bumps and bruises, the people that were trying to protect their encampment would likely be no worse off for it.
Once reassured the men would live, I went back to each of their bodies, checking them for weapons and collecting any I could find. Some had guns, and others, like the man that seemed to lead them, simply had knives. I gathered their weapons in a heap and dumped them unceremoniously on the far side of a large rock. They would likely still have need of them, but I’d rather they were unarmed for our next conversation.
My ears pricked up at a slight sound of scuffling from behind a rocky outcrop. It could have been an animal of some sort, but I highly doubted it. Without turning, I stood from my stooped position beside the last of the men I was checking, and dusted off my hands. “They might have a bit of a headache when they wake up, but they’ll be alright.”
I listened for a response, but none came.
“I won’t hurt you.” I said, turning to face the bulbous outcropping of rock. “I didn’t want to hurt them either, but they attacked us. Do you understand?”
Again, there wasn’t a sound.
I turned from those efforts and went back to Tiamat. Whoever was there would eventually either need to come out and face me or sneak back to the encampment. For the moment, I didn’t really care which it was, as long as I could get back to helping Tiamat.
I knelt by him again, running my hands over his neck and back, and tracing his cheek and jaw with my fingers. “Tiamat. Please wake up,” I whispered in his ear.
“Is he here to kill us?” came a small voice from beside me. “Because I don’t think he is.”
I turned to see a boy of about 12 standing beside me, looking inquisitively on. Then he continued, “But I’m not so sure about you.”
I could feel my lips twitching, but I tried to keep a straight face as I moved into the water to untangle Tiamat’s other foot. Thankfully, it was only hooked in the net and didn’t need untangling at all. How the heck did he end up like this? I couldn’t recall how we had gotten to the shore at all.
“Nathaniel asked us to come here to protect the people of your camp. So, no, we aren’t here to kill you. This,” I said, indicating the men sprawled around us with a sweep of my hand, “was from an unfortunate misunderstanding.” I splashed out of the water and moved to Tiamat’s shoulders, bracing myself to drag him out.
“Yeah, I saw it. They totally had it coming.”
I looked back at him in surprise.
He merely shrugged his shoulders. “They might wake up soon,” he stated, looking around at the men.
“So what? Now they know to leave us alone.”
I focused again on Tiamat and, bracing my hands under his shoulders, gently tilted his upper torso off the rocks. His head lolled forward, dark locks of hair falling into his face. I bit my lip thinking of how many times we had found each other like this in the past 24 hours—well, how many times he found me like this anyway. This was not a good start to our relationship. I knew it would be difficult, but I never expected anything quite as bad as this…
I pulled on his body, dragging him forward until his legs and feet were well out of the water. Then, before easing him back down, I sat on the ground and lowered his shoulders onto one of my legs and let his head rest on the other. I wished I could flip him onto his back, but, with his wings out, I couldn’t be sure that wouldn’t hurt him.
My heart was breaking. I didn’t know what to do. I ran my hand down his back, along the smooth skin between his wings, and rested my cheek against his head. Tears threatened, but I wouldn’t let them come. Not yet. Perhaps he simply needed some rest. Or maybe, with that filthy shadow inside him, he was lost inside himself, just as I was.
“You want him to live.” It was a statement, not a question, tinged with the wonderment of a child. I had already forgotten the boy was there.
“Why? He is one of the Nephilim.”
“I told you. We came here to protect your camp.” I was weary of his company and wished the child would just go away. “He isn’t like the other Nephilim.”
“And you love him.”
He was quiet for a moment. “I saw what you did. People can’t do that. No one can do that.”
I wasn’t certain how to respond. How could I explain to him what I was? If these people were afraid of the Nephilim—which, by all means they should have been—how would they respond to someone like me? “You need special people to watch over your camp,” I replied. It wasn’t really a lie.
He was quiet again. “What are you?”
I let out a long breath and straightened to look at him. I wondered if he could see the sorrow in my face, because I could see it in his. But there was something else there too; I was sure I could see a hint of wisdom that belied his years. It didn’t seem to fit. Who was this child? “My name’s Kali,” I answered.
He picked at a scab on his arm, looking uncomfortable. “What are you, Kali?”
“A friend. That’s all you need to know right now. I won’t hurt you. Neither will he.” I sighed, looking down at Tiamat. I bit my lip to keep it from trembling. More to myself than to the child, I mumbled, “I wish I knew how to help him.”
Tiamat’s dark hair was still in front of his face. Ever so gently, I pushed it back on his forehead, revealing a beautiful, pale-skinned profile. The moment his face was clear, however, I heard a sharp intake of breath from the boy beside me.
I swung my head again to look at the boy. His focus was fixed on Tiamat’s face, his expression strangely neutral. However, I knew I saw it, that glimmer of recognition just simmering under the surface. “Are his eyes blue?” he asked. His voice sounded so small.
“Yes. As far as I know, all the Nephilim’s eyes are blue.”
Without shifting his focus in the slightest, his next words came out as a command. “You want to help? Then burn him.” And with that the boy padded away, swallowed by the darkness at the back of the cave.
This work is fully protected by Canadian and International copyright laws and is the intellectual property of D.H. Nevins and Black Wraith Books.
© January 15, 2014