Hello my dear readers! It has been quite a while since I’ve posted any updates, but today I have something truly special to share with you. Though I’m still deep in the editing process, the first half of The Fated has shaped up into something I am very proud of, and I’d like to share some of it with you today.
Below, you will find the first three chapters of The Fated: The Allseer Trilogy Book III.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
This is a preview of the final book in a trilogy!
If you haven’t read The Bonded or The Cursed, read no further!
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Fated: The Allseer Trilogy Book III
Keha’ro crawled across the ground on his belly, a human snake hiding from the eyes of watchful predators. He clung to the deeper shadows of weathered statues, their surfaces pockmarked from years exposed to the elements. His breath came in ragged gasps as he heaved himself forward, scooping armfuls of glittering black sand as he struggled to reach safety.
The ground was still warm from the intense heat of the sun, now hidden below the skyline, but it was nothing compared to the warmth of his own skin. Fire raged through him, an inferno that threatened to burst forth and consume the world. Every movement caused pain, but he could not stop. To stop was to lose everything. To stop was to become their weapon, a tool, and he would not see such a thing come to pass. He’d rather die and, if the pain he felt was any indication, he’d soon have his wish.
Voices carried from a distant rise and Keha’ro stilled, becoming another shadow amongst many. It was by the blessing of the night sky that he’d made it so far. The moon was but a sliver overhead and his trail remained lost to the dark, but it would not remain so. Glancing over his shoulder, he could see torches glowing on the horizon, orange light flickering against a backdrop of stars. They’d found him.
Driven by fear, Ke’haro pulled himself into a crouch, slinking towards a pale structure half buried in the earth, like a broken tooth jutting out of decayed gums. Power hummed and vibrated, singing to him from beneath his feet. It promised protection and he hurried towards the ruin as fast as he could, limbs burning.
Around the back of the sagging building, he patted the walls, fingers seeking the notch of a loose stone. Fingers slipped into familiar holds and he tugged, relief flooding through him as the stone gave way. A small hole was left, just barely big enough for him to squeeze through. Going feet first, he squirmed his way through the hole, feet steadying on a pile of debris he’d stacked to create makeshift stairs. Safe inside his sanctuary, he reached back outside, gripping the loose stone and tugging it back into place.
The room was pitch black and it was only by memory of his repeated visits that he made it down the pile of debris safely. He staggered into a familiar room, each step in the dark picked carefully. He couldn’t risk a fall, couldn’t risk the noise it might create. The path narrowed and sloped downwards, each step sending a cascade of loose sand into the shadows beyond.
Keha’ro held out a hand and waved it back and forth, awaiting the cold surface of a wall to press against his palm. It was impossible to see anything in the impenetrable dark. His nerves were on edge and when his hand finally collided with something solid, he gave a start, his breath catching in his throat. Stop panicking. Just move. Move.
He turned to his left and proceeded down another corridor, hand trailing against the stone surface so he wouldn’t lose his way. He envisioned the structure in his mind, delicate archways, glittering black sand, and walls covered in ancient runes and symbols. He could feel them beneath his fingertips, dips and swirls etched into every surface.
Instinct guided him, an innate sense of the halls lending him confidence despite the darkness impeding his vision. He was almost there. Just a few more turns and he’d be safe. Momentum carried him into a solid sheet of rock and he rebounded with a grunt, ignoring the sharp talons of pain digging painfully into his chest.
There came a grating sound that set the temple to shaking. Bits of sand and rock, loosened by the movement, rained down from above, pelting him with debris. Though he could not see it, he could feel the absence of the wall he’d run in to. He’d made it. He was safe.
Brushing grit from his eyes, he clambered back to his feet, swaying towards the last refuge left in his crumbling world. Sad to think it was a stone that remained his friend when all the others had turned on him. A pale blue light sprang to life in greeting, pulsating in gentle waves. Against the far wall, a great face had been carved into the rock. It was that of a man, all sharp lines and angular features. Elongated ears and a long, lean face showed him to be one of the Orgol, the ancient race of beings that remained little more than slaves to his own kind. Stripped of their power over the years, only remnants remained of their culture. His heart lurched. He could only hope the Orgol back in Korinth would be okay, that they wouldn’t be foolish enough to come chasing after him. If anyone found out what they knew, what they’d learned from Keha’ro, they’d be slaughtered.
The face in the wall glowed bright at his approach and the gentle voice of Rilnir filled his mind. “What has happened? You’re distressed. Are you well, Keha’ro?”
He collapsed in the sand beneath Rilnir, weary muscles unable to carry him any further. “N-no. Something is happening to me. I feel like I’m burning. I can’t…what is happening to me, Ril?” A sharp pain tore across his chest, a thousand needles forcing their way up from beneath his smoldering skin. Warmth slid down his chest and he gasped. Raising a trembling hand, he brushed his fingers across his chest, feeling the sticky warmth of blood beneath his fingers – blood and something else. “Ril, please.”
“Oh my,” Ril whispered. “Stay calm, child. This will pass.”
A scream slipped between gritted teeth, the pain so overwhelming it drowned out all other thoughts. He could feel Rilnir on the outskirts of his mind, his gentle presence a cooling balm for the fire raging within. “Followed,” he managed to gasp between agonized breaths.
“I know. I can sense them. Just get through this, Keha’ro. Stay close to me and I’ll keep you safe until you’ve made it through.” Keha’ro dragged himself closer to his friend and put his back against the wall. “Good, that’s good. Stay calm and stay focused. Close your eyes and don’t open them again until I tell you to.”
“Ril, I don’t…”
“Please trust me. I’ll protect you.”
He was in too much pain to argue. Closing his eyes, he let the fire burn through him, let it consume and feed on what he’d once been. Fingers of flame tore at his very being, stretched it to its very limits. His powers churned and roared, a beast prodded into an awakened rage. There would be no coming back from this. Whatever was happening to him would change him forever.
There were voices shouting beyond the door, his name leaping from angry lips. They had come for him, had found his hiding place beneath the ruins. Fists pounded on unyielding stone and Rilnir swelled with power. There was nothing left to do but trust in his friend and hope that when he opened his eyes next, he’d still be alive.
Tomias formed a mental map of the castle as he rushed down darkened halls and through vacant rooms. How many wrong turns had he taken already? He had been so consumed by his need to find Kirheen that he’d forgotten how to get back to the others. Damn it, Tomias. Focus.
The castle all looked the same; dark gloomy stone, and dust, and rot. Corridor after corridor, endless and vast. He thought his search might never end when the low murmur of voices echoed down the hall. He rushed towards the sound, hoping that it would be familiar faces he’d find and not remnants of the royal guard still loyal to their dead queen. Whoever he found, he just needed to convince them to help before he ran out of time, before Kirheen was lost to him forever.
Somewhere in the castle, part of his soul stood frozen, looking into a spacious room dripping with corruption. Black tendrils wound up pillars like invasive ivy, stretching towards the sky and blotting out the light. Every inch of it had been alive, squirming and slithering and daring him to set foot in that chaos. And in the middle of it all had been Kirheen, her steps determined, eyes and ears shut to the world.
‘Possessed’ was the only word that came to mind. Something had been inside her, some power beyond his ability to understand. It had lured her to that room, had used her powers to tear open the door, and she’d disappeared into a realm where he could not follow.
He couldn’t fathom how what he’d seen was even possible. It looked just like he’d imagined, just like he’d been told. The Darkness was real and he’d just stared right into the eyes of madness. By the Allseer, who is going to believe this?
As he came skidding around the corner, he nearly slammed into the answer. Mirin was a flash of motion and fury. She lashed out, grabbing him and pinning him to the wall before he could even comprehend what was happening. The other Seekers standing nearby looked startled, their hands raised and ready to attack.
“What is wrong with you?” Mirin hissed. “If you’re trying to get yourself killed, startling people while we’re securing the castle is a great way to do it.”
Her touch flooded his veins with ice. He was terrified of her, terrified of what she could do. She’d damn near broken him when he’d been her prisoner, had rifled through his mind and took what she’d wanted. He’d almost lost his mind because of her, lost his memories and his future. And now she was his only hope of saving Kirheen. Perhaps beneath that frozen visage, there was some feeling for the child that she’d borne into the world.
He squirmed out of her grasp, his body relaxing now that there was space between them. “We need to talk,” he said, glancing nervously at the other Seekers. “About Kirheen.”
Mirin crossed her arms over her chest, her expression hidden behind the mask she wore to disguise her identity. With a sigh, she looked to her fellow Seekers and waved them off. “You look like you just stared death in the face. What happened? Where did you two disappear to? Your friends have been-”
“-Mirin, just listen, please! Something happened to her. I don’t even know how to describe it. She seemed fine this morning and then she changed when we got to the castle. She wandered off and I found her in front of a door and nothing I say or do will get through to her. She went in and the room is covered in…damn it, I don’t know, but I think the Darkness is real.”
“Have you lost your damned mind? Slow down for a second and make sense.”
Tomias took a deep breath and forced the words out in what he hoped was a more coherent structure. He needed her to understand. “Kirheen is in danger. There is something in her mind, something controlling her, and it forced her to enter a room in the castle. It’s covered in some sort of corruption and – I think this would all make entirely more sense if I just showed you!”
“A red door?”
“The door that she went through, was it red?”
“Yes, big and carved and-”
Mirin was poised for movement the second the words left his mouth. “Let’s go. You can tell me more along the way. My Seekers will follow. I have a feeling we’ll need the help.”
They fled the corridor and he was thankful that Mirin knew the way. He’d been in too much of a panic and the map he’d tried to keep in his head had faded, becoming endless twists and turns that would have had them wandering the castle for days.
Her reaction to the information unsettled him, as if she’d somehow been expecting trouble. How had she known about that room, and what was beyond it? “What do you know? What’s in that room?”
“I wish I could say for sure. Years ago, Prince Elfrind died under rather mysterious circumstances. That room is his final resting place.”
“Why would she break in there?”
“I know even less than you, so save the questions for later. We’ve got work to do.” They slowed as they neared the room and Tomias could hear the rest of the Seekers following close behind. The hall was littered with splinters of red wood that crunched beneath their boots as they approached. When Mirin caught sight of the room beyond, she froze like a startled deer. “What in the name of the gods is this?”
Tomias had hoped he had been imagining it, that his mind had conjured the image as some sort of strange coping mechanism. Instead, it was just as he’d left it, oozing black, a blemish on every surface in sight. “It’s just like we’d been told.”
“The Darkness? A story. A lie. But this… she is in there?”
“Yes. I tried to follow but whatever that stuff is, it’s alive. It tried to attack, to keep me from entering the room. I think with all of us together, we’ll be able to go inside, get Kirheen and get the hell out. At least that’s what I was hoping.”
“Let’s hope it’s that easy.”
The rest of the Seekers came to a halt, a gasp sounding from each of them as they looked in to the room. “What is it?” one of them asked. Questions lingered on stilled tongues, eyes alight with curiosity and fear.
Mirin turned towards her Seekers. “Listen up. Securing the castle is still our top priority and as of now, this has become part of it. That substance beyond the door is a mystery to all of us, but there is someone trapped inside and we’re going to have to get them out. We’ll form a defensive barrier and work together to guard our minds. We’re going to push our way in, get the girl, and get out. Any questions?”
The Seekers glanced between each other and in each glance he could see their apprehension and fear. Beyond those emotions, there was something else, something instilled in each of them by Mirin. A solid, unbreakable will. They’d followed her this far, they’d follow her through this. Each of them nodded one by one and prepared for the task ahead.
With a hand held over a candle’s flame, Kirheen tried to wake herself up, to break out of whatever terrible nightmare she was trapped in. This isn’t real. She gritted her teeth against pain she shouldn’t have been feeling at all and willed herself to wake up.
Her skin bubbled and blistered, the smell of scorched flesh filling her cramped hiding space. No longer able to bear the pain, she yanked her hand away and stared at her palm. Her skin was twisted and disfigured, marred by the terrible burn she’d inflicted upon herself. Red and oozing, the wound cracked as she shifted her hand, trying to see better in the waning light of a dying candle.
A strange power swelled within her chest, hot as a burning ember pressed against her heart, and the skin on her palm rippled and changed. She allowed herself a single blink, a small flicker to reset her vision, and looked upon a palm now smooth, devoid of the injury that had been there just seconds before. The crystals protruding from her chest glowed faintly, growing warmer still with the power healing her, then faded into darkness.
It couldn’t have been real. Wounds didn’t heal like that. And yet, nothing she’d seen gave any indication that she was stuck in a dream, that she was trapped inside her own mind, or anyone else’s for that matter. Her eyes roamed the closet she’d chosen to hide in, a chill spreading through the warmth left behind by her power. Across the floor, a dark corruption spread, black tendrils creeping up the walls. The movement was sluggish, as if in her own weakened state it hadn’t managed to a get a firm foothold in the world.
“It’s not real,” she moaned. “It can’t be.”
But it was. She’d watched it come oozing out of her skin, dark as the night sky. The more she panicked, the more it spread. Hiding seemed the best option, the only option. Perhaps if she could keep herself calm, she could keep it contained.
She turned her attention inwards, reaching towards the strange new well of power burning hot within her chest. It was impossibly deep, a swirling ocean of power, energy, and light just waiting to be unleashed. And for what? What did it mean? A terrible song had lured her to Val’shar, a power beyond explanation. She’d looked upon a skeletal man, the rattle of the chains that held him still ringing in her ears. A voice like smoke had told her to awaken and she’d been powerless to stop what had followed – a hazy dream world of pain and darkness, and a vision of a friend she hadn’t seen in so long.
There were too many questions and trying to conjure the answers set her head to aching, a deep throbbing bursting to life in her temples. Fear kept her anchored to her hiding place, kept her from seeking help. She wasn’t ready to face anyone, to explain what had happened, what was happening.
And what if she hurt someone? Darkness or not, whatever was oozing out of her skin was an unknown, a variable outside of her control. Or was it? There was a connection between herself and the corruption, she just needed to figure out how, or even if, she could control it. With all that power slumbering within, there had to be some way of stopping it, or at least a way to contain it until she could figure out the details.
Her thoughts turned to Tomias, to what she’d tell him when he came looking for her. Memories of him flashed through her mind, his voice calling to her, an echo lost in the power that had been consuming her. He’d pulled her out of that labyrinth of darkness, away from the man that had set her blood on fire, but she could remember little else.
When she’d woke, she’d been covered in blood, her chest marred by a landscape of jagged stone, glowing like a beacon in the dark. And from those crystals, and out of her very flesh, the corruption had come crawling into the world.
“What am I?” she whispered and lowered her hand once more to the candles flame.
END OF SPOILERS!
And there you have it – the first three chapters of The Fated! I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into the final book of the Allseer Trilogy.
As far as a release date goes, I have nothing set in stone. I am working really hard in the time I have to make this book as best as it can be and don’t want to rush something as important as the ending. With that said, while this year is not looking likely for release, I am looking at no later than February of 2019!
It goes without saying, but I appreciate each and every one of you that has read my books, left reviews, given me feedback, and shared this series with your friends and family. It means so much to me to have your support.
There are a lot of exciting projects in the works!
Here is a general list of things that will be happening in the near future.
- The Fated Release Date and Cover Reveal
- The Bonded will be getting a fresh round of editing to bring it up to date!
- New covers for the entire trilogy
- Writing will continue for my next project, Of Blood and Briar. This will be an adult fantasy novel following the life of Calder Navarro, a boy taken as a prisoner of war raised as an assassin in a faraway kingdom. If you read my short story from many, many years ago (Revenge), this is based off of that very story. I am beyond excited to get started on this project in earnest. More information will be available about this project in 2019!
Have questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them below.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org