Here is Book #4. I hope you enjoy it!!! Tomorrow Book #5 of the series is released, and of course it will be featured on my Blog.
by Wendy Owens
Gabe’s world was forever altered by the people he came to know and love at Rampart Manor. Although, it wasn’t only his life that was changed when he made the choice to leave them all behind.
During his five year absence, they each had a battle with personal demons. Dina is faced with a moral dilemma, the path of good leading to certain heartbreak, or evil, and a possibility of happiness.
Uri meets a mysterious woman who seems to have a lot of the answers that he has been searching for, and she certainly has a place in his heart, if he can only hold onto her.
Sophie is faced with choices she never knew would be so difficult. The question now is: will the personal demons of the remaining Guardians of Rampart be too much for them to overcome?
“Are you telling me that Michael wanted to lie to the council? He’s likeâ€” Mr. Perfect.”
“I know, but it’s true. Mirada resisted, she didn’t think he should allow the council to dictate their lives. I think it’s why he is such a hard-ass about choices and the Guardians not removing the ability of choice from a person. They fought about it for a while, but she saw she was not going to change his mind and at last relented to his suggestion.”
“Did they believe him?”
“At first. Over the years though, there have been sightings and rumors that Mirada lives. Michael does the best he can to feed Mirada information so she can stay two steps ahead of the council, often sending me as the messenger. I think they might know where she is now; he wouldn’t say, but I think they’re using her to threaten him into obedience.”
“Butâ€” the council wouldn’t do that.”
“Dina, are you that ignorant?”
“Excuse me?” Dina growled, her posture shifting into one of a wild animal, ready to pounce at any moment.
Raising his hands defensively, Uri quickly attempted to correct his careless statement. “All I meant is that the council isn’t all knowing. They make mistakes. They mean well, but sometimes in their zealous attempt to protect the way of the guardians, they seem to violate everything we stand for.”
“There has to be some sort of mistake. Michael has to be coming back,” Dina moaned, slumping into a defeated position.
“I don’t think he is, at least not if the council has their way.”
“This is going to destroy Gabe,” Dina said.
“Damn it, I forgot about Gabe. I have to figure out a way to get him to let me explain. If he would just listen, I could tell him it wasn’t what it looked like.”
“You need to give him some space, Uri. Let me think on it, alright? I’m sure I can come up with something.”
Uri leapt forward in excitement, a grin beaming from ear to ear. After planting a kiss firmly on Dina’s forehead, Uri exclaimed, “Thanks, I knew you would figure this out. You’re the best!”
And in the next moment, in a split second, as soon as the words left his lips, he was gone, leaving Dina standing there and wondering how she got herself into the middle of this mess.
The smoke stung at the corners of Uri’s eyes as he struggled to open them. He could hear the battle sounds all around him and smell the iron from the blood drenched warfare in the air. Much to his surprise, death had not yet claimed him. He could feel Raimie’s body under his own, no warmth came from him, however, and Uri feared the worse. Over his shoulder, he heard a large blast and the earth shook under him.
The trackers had obviously followed someone through. There were hundreds of designated transportation locations as part of the evacuation drill. Absolutely nobody was allowed to transport directly to a primary facility for this exact reason. If a tracker were to follow your transportation signature to the next facility, the Guardians could be nearly wiped out in one night. The secrecy of the facilities and cloaking spells were key in their safety.
Uri knew if he or Raimie had any chance of surviving, he needed to get clear of the fighting and find a healer. Attempting to sit up, he braced his weight on the earth just beside Raimie’s head. He quickly reconsidered as the unbearable pain shot through his side. Running his hand down to the source, he could feel the shaft of an arrow jutting out from his side; a warm wetness covered his fingertips.
In the distance, Uri could hear someone crying out in agony, not a voice he recognized, yet the pain in it seemed all too familiar. Another blast rang out from behind him as Uri slumped to the ground, groaning in pain.
Closing his eyes, Uri thought of any place other than where he was. Focusing the last bit of strength he had, and holding firmly onto Raimie, Uri attempted to transport them again. Nothing happened. Frantically, he tried again, receiving the same results. With his injuries, he did not have enough strength to transport them both.
The thought of abandoning his friend to save himself was never an option. He collapsed, pushing even closer to Raimie. Pressing his lips against his friend’s ear, he whispered, “As good a day to die as any.” He would defend them until his end.
The sound of a blade cutting through the air and piercing flesh shot out, followed by a groan and gurgling sound. Uri reached to his side, gripping the blade mounted there. With his injury, he wouldn’t likely be able to deliver a killing blow, but he was certain he would still be able to do a significant amount of injury.
Uri waited patiently for the assailant to come closer; the smoke was still thick and his vision obscured. He could still hear the slashing, the crunching of bones as they shattered under the pressure of the warrior’s attack. His chest ached as he wondered how many of his brothers were falling victim to the legions of demons that day. He could feel in his bones that the loss was great.
Slightly arching his back, squinting his watering eyes, Uri attempted to get a good look at the beast that approached. A gasp caught in his throat, he had been wrong; it was not a demon soldier at all that had been approaching them. It was a woman he had never seen before, but something still felt familiar as she approached. She was slashing through the demons as though they were overgrown jungle brush, a mere irritant in her way.
Running forward into the smoke, a hundred yards in, their weapons were met with a clash of steel and tearing flesh. The demons burst into fluttering piles of ash and flame as their swords sliced through them. Confidently, the men bounded further into the battlefield.
The earth began to shake and tremble beneath their feet. Uri thought perhaps it was an earth quake until he heard his friend’s voice.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Haim groaned.
“What is it?” Uri called back, squinting as the smoke stung his eyes.
“They have a hydra!”
“Huh?” Uri gasped in disbelief. Taking a step closer in Haim’s direction, he peered into the distance, trying to make out the dark figure that loomed above them. As the air began to glow orange, Uri soon realized that what he saw were the flames coming from one of the beast’s five heads.
“Oh, shit!” Uri cried.
“What do we do?” Haim asked, his brutish tactics no match for a hydra.
“This is the stuff Sophie’s good at, damn it!” Uri grumbled. “Just kill as many of them as you can. Love you, brother!”
With those final words, Uri pushed deeper into the mob of demons. It was hard to determine where one monster ended and the next began. Their eyes glowed, their teeth gnashed, hungry for flesh. It only took a moment for Uri to be lost in the sea of unholiness, losing any sight of his friend.
Uri took stock of his situation. Circling above his head was an alp, a trail of smoke streaming behind it. Alp’s were known for haunting one with nightmares. Uri knew he had to keep his guard up and not allow the creature into his thoughts. A bajang was creeping closer to his left. Its feline features did nothing to soften the glare of its exposed fangs. He knew, given the chance, the bajang would suck every last drop of blood from his body. Behind the bajang was a cluster of cambion, their skin blue in color, their skeletal-like frames shaking as they screeched a high-pitched battle cry. A cambion was the offspring of a human and succubus; they had always turned Uri’s stomach.
To Uri’s right were three goblins; their skin was a putrid green, which appeared to always be secreting a slimy fluid of some kind. The goblins clutched their daggers tight, cackling as they prepared to attack. Directly in front of him stood a rokurokubi, which caused Uri to do a double take, at first thinking perhaps Baal had recruited a human.
The male foe was the first to attack, running towards Uri and swinging wildly. As Uri brought his green, glowing blade towards the man’s throat, he was surprised to see its neck flex backwards and to the side, growing at least six feet in length. The being laughed at Uri’s failed attempt to slice its jugular. Uri quickly realized he was not dealing with a human. Instead, he had come face to face with a being he had only ever read about in books. A rokurokubi by all appearances was merely a human, a character trait that allows them to blend into society on Earth. They have an amazing ability to extend their necks to unnatural lengths, a handy trick they use to spy on the humans and report back to their demon masters.
Uri stumbled, careful to avoid the swiping blades of the goblins. After assessing the dangers, Uri was prepared to destroy the ravenous cluster of demons, and they were all prepared to do the same to him. Lunging forward at the rokurokubi, this time Uri was prepared for his evasive maneuvers. He watched as its neck stretched, the shades of its flesh turning an eerie white as it did. Uri was not trying to slash again at the man’s throat; instead he had his aim focused on the creature’s chest. Pushing his blade forward, the heel of his hand thrusting at the butt of it mightily, Uri knew exactly where to penetrate to slide between the ribs. Slicing into his chest with great precision, Uri pulled the blade back out and brought it to rest at his side. His movements had been too quick for the rokurokubi to see.
Thinking the Guardian had foolishly missed again, he started to laugh, but instead of laughter exiting his mouth, there was simply a gurgle. The monster’s blood had already begun to seep into the lung Uri had sliced. Rather than wait for the being to die the slow and agonizing death it deserved, Uri stood and swiped at it’s now exposed, lengthened throat. Cutting clean through, a spurt erupted from the beheaded neck before the body fell to the ground with a thud. At the sight of the fallen demon, the cambion increased the intensity of their shrieking. Uri fought the urge to cover his ears.
Looking in their direction, a glare in Uri’s eyes caused them to hiss as they coward briefly. He was prepared to put an end to them, but the bajang had other plans. The creature moved as though he were floating. He swiped at Uri’s chest, and though he missed his target, his claws managed to grab a piece of Uri’s arm as he pulled away. Uri winced, the wound only angering him.
The goblins were too hungry for Uri’s flesh to resist the fight any longer. Seeing their opportunity after Uri was injured, the three moved in for their attack. Sensing the blade as it sliced through the air, Uri fell to the ground under its reach. In only a moment, he was back on his feet; it was as though his injury did not faze him. The goblins growled with fury at the failed attempt.
“He’s mine!” the bajang shouted furiously at the goblins. They hissed and howled in contempt at the command, but it was clear who ranked higher as the threesome backed away. Their attention was quickly refocused on a group of freshman guardians that were fleeing.
“Run!” Uri bellowed as he saw the beings give chase, unable to shift his attention away from the bajang.
“Are you ready to die, Guardian?” the creature proposed.
“Not today. But you’re about to meet the end,” Uri replied, his arm finally beginning to sting from the scratch.
“The Guardian is going to die, he’s going to dieâ€” yesssâ€” he’s going to die,” the cambions taunted from behind the bajang.
“Will you shut up already!” Uri shouted back as he dodged another attempt from the bajang. “If anyone wanted your opinion, they would ask.”
The cambions cry reached a feverish pitch in response to Uri’s words. The bajang didn’t hesitate to move in, piercing Uri’s side with its claws. The shallow wound was not life threatening but painful enough.
“Damn it!” Uri growled, climbing back to his feet.