Writers usually don’t like to give away trade secrets, but just this once Val and J.L. have agreed to tell us a few little known facts about what happened during the creation of THE PRIMORTUS CHRONICLES!
One of the major characters was supposed to die at the end but was saved by a BETA READER, who pleaded for the authors to spare their favorite! Unfortunately, that meant somebody else had to go!!
The main character’s name Skylee Porter started out with a different spelling–Skyleigh. It was changed to give her a connection to her father’s name Lee.
The story is set in New Zealand for several reasons…first and foremost, it’s a beautiful country, but also because both authors love The Lord of the Rings, where the movies were filmed. Which also explains the obsession Skylee’s stepsister, Chrism, has with the LOTR’s books and movies.
The authors came very close to writing a series of story books for much younger readers–but instead ended up with 3 epic fantasy length books and nearly 1800 pages!!
The 3 types of Helpmates called Shifters, Reapers, and Seers almost didn’t make it into the story. They were added during the final edits of Eleventh Elementum-Book 1.
So there you have it, a few things the authors kept under wraps until now. They say confession is good for the soul, so stay tuned there may be more where this came from….or not.
Skylee’s eyes were so intently focused on the envelope, she didn’t notice the colorful insects or Will. She scampered on down the sidewalk.
He gently reached out, clutched her arm and said, “Sky, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, Will, there you are!” she said in a distressed voice.
“What’s goin’ on, eh?” he asked, staring up at the butterflies.
Skylee smiled when she heard his voice. His ordinarily slight Australian accent was much stronger after being in Sydney. Actually, since Airon had come to live with them, Will had picked up more and more of his cousin’s Aussie ways. And Skylee noticed something else was different about Will. He had returned from his trip with blonde highlights in his wavy brown hair. No doubt from spending hours at the beach. She wouldn’t be surprised if his new surfer-boy look turned many an Aussie girl’s head.
For some reason, she didn’t like dwelling on that thought. So, she turned her attention to giving Will a detailed answer about the stranger, the book, the necklace, and the words that had appeared and disappeared. During her little speech the butterflies, still hovering behind her, continued to distract him.
“Uh-huh,” he grunted.
“Will?” Skylee called a little louder.
“Eh?” Will replied, with his eyes still glued to the butterflies.
“What are you looking at?” Skylee questioned grabbing his jacket.
Will finally turned his attention to Skylee and motioned with his eyes toward the fluttering creatures. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her around.
“That,” he said in a matter of fact tone.
Skylee cocked her head to the side in bewilderment. A mixture of shock and awe possessed her as she gazed at dozens of colorful butterflies flying above her head. She raised an eyebrow and said, “Eastern Tailed Blues, well…their real name is Cupido Comyntas—what are they doing here so early in the spring? Okay, that’s a little weird.”
“Cripes, Sky, it’s more than a little weird. And by the look of it, they’re following you.”
“All right, it’s really weird,” said Skylee, waving her hands in the air to shoo the butterflies away.
As she watched the purplish-blue insects floating into the sky, she wondered if her mind was scattering with them. I must be going crazy. Why are all these bizarre things happening today? She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts.
“Will, did you hear what I told you?”
He nodded but continued watching the butterflies, now tiny specks, as they faded away. Skylee softly tapped him on the shoulder, which caused him to jump and look over at her.
“Sorry, I’m a bit distracted,” he said with a crooked grin.
She smiled forgivingly at him. Over the last few months, there had been a change in their friendship. It was subtle, but she could sense awkwardness between them.
So, what? He’s still your best friend, she told herself. In fact, they had been BFFs for as long as she could remember. Her mind drifted back to when she was about seven or eight. Those were the days when she spent much of her time with Will and Gracie. They had called themselves the three musketeers, one for all and all for one. That had been their motto.
Those were blissful times even though the skies were gray and even after Gracie’s illness prevented them from going outside to play. They still had fun building forts out of blankets and dressing up as their favorite characters from the books Gracie read to them. Then it all changed—Skylee wished things didn’t always have to change.
She swallowed hard and fought back her emotions. She composed her thoughts and recounted the details about the gifts to Will. She decided to downplay the part about the stranger and the glowing light. It was best not to tell him too much since he was so protective of her. Will crossed his arms and chewed on his bottom lip as he listened.
“Are ya alright?” He reached out and patted her arm. “Did the bloke hurt you?”
“I’m fine, just a bit shook up,” she said, nervously tucking a long wisp of hair behind her ear.
“Well, did you call security or your mum to tell them what happened?”
“Oh, Will, I’m okay,” Skylee said. “You worry too much. I’ll tell them later.” She looked down at her feet. “It’s what I saw in the book that really bothers me.”
“I worry too much? You just told me some bloke climbed through the window and—he could’ve hurt you!”
“But he didn’t…I’m okay. I thought he was after the book, but come to think of it he didn’t really try to take it.”
“And you heard him say something about it existing?” he asked as Skylee nodded in agreement. “So where is the book?”
“I hid it. It should be safe. Why do you think the man said it still exists like he thought something had happened to it?”
Will frowned. “Sky, if you see him again, let me know.”
“I will,” she said, letting out a sigh. “Why are you so obsessed with him? Please, just tell me…what do you think was going on with that book? What could’ve made those things happen?”
“All right,” Will said placing his hand upon his chin in a gesture of contemplation. “Let me get this straight, you opened the book and words just appeared?”
“That’s impossible,” he whispered in disbelief.
“I know. So there’s got to be a logical explanation.”
“Right, and what did it say?”
“Well,” Skylee thought about it a second. Should I tell him the whole story?
First, let’s set the scene…The city of Auckland, sometime in the future. It’s 15 years after The Day of Disaster, a catastrophic event, wherein a vast crack in the earth’s crust nearly circled the globe. Our main character, Skylee Porter is on her way to the recently restored New Sky Tower to go bungee jumping.
Imagine finding out the necklace you’ve been given (as an inheritance in your father’s will) holds a magical power…and there’s a mysterious man, who will stop at nothing to take it from you. Now imagine he comes for it at the top of The New Sky Tower! How will you escape?
The following is an excerpt from Book One of The Primortus Chronicles.
It was a relief when they reached the corner of Federal and Victoria streets and entered the base of the Sky Tower. Skylee was pleased to learn that her book, still secretly hidden inside the backpack, could be safely secured inside a locker while she bungee jumped.
Once Ann had bought the tickets and signed the forms, they lined up for the elevator ride to the top. As they waited Skylee felt the necklace, which was tucked under her shirt, warming against her skin. She decided to ignore it hoping it would return to normal.
Moments later their tour guide arrived. He explained that he would also serve as the bungee instructor for the brave few who planned to jump. He was a tall, attractive guy, even dressed in the dorky bright orange uniform and white gloves. His dark blonde hair had that shaggy but styled thing going on, and he wore trendy sunglasses. His oration about the Sky Tower turned out to be surprisingly unrehearsed. Skylee wondered if this was perhaps his first day on the job.
“The New Sky Tower is three hundred and forty meters tall,” the guide began. “Uh, making it um…one of the tallest towers in the world. I think it’s…yeah, it’s as tall as the New Eiffel Tower.” He took a deep breath and the next part of his speech flew out at high speed. “The tower was designed to withstand winds in excess of one hundred and twenty miles per hour. It even survived a nine point three earthquake on the Day of Disaster. The New Sky Tower recently reopened to the public after years of reconstruction and repair.”
Will leaned over and whispered in Skylee’s ear, “I didn’t know you were so famous. You have a tower named after you, Sky.”
Skylee rolled her eyes at him. It was hard to decide which was worst Airon calling her Skippy or Will’s Sky joke. She placed her fingers in an L on her forehead, turned toward Will and dramatically mouthed the word loser. Catching a glimpse of the guide staring, she quickly dropped her hand. He smiled oddly at her and she looked away, suddenly aware that he might have thought she was making fun of him.
As Skylee stepped onto the elevator she noticed her necklace warming. The sensation made her stomach churn as the elevator took off. She tried to ignore it and listen to the guide’s speech.
“There are something like…twelve hundred steps…uh wait, yes, twelve hundred and eighty-five steps from the base of Sky Tower to Sky Deck,” he continued, looking down at his white glove, which was covered with writing. “On a clear day you can see approximately fifty one miles from the Sky Tower.”
Skylee felt the elevator lurch to a stop and someone took her by the hand. The guide was escorting her out of the elevator. This left a rather confused looking tour group to exit on their own, including Will who looked more annoyed than confused. Chrism, on the other hand, seemed to find it amusing.
Skylee could feel the guide’s eyes upon her, even though his dark glasses concealed them. Her face flushed under his gaze, and the necklace hidden underneath her shirt grew hotter by the second. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could bear its heat. Anguished, she let out a small sigh.
Will’s mouth fell open and he formed a fist. For a second, Skylee thought he was going to punch the guide. But instead he stood frozen in place, staring loathingly at him with both fists still tightly clinched. All along, Chrism persisted in chattering to Will about their first time to bungee jump together.
Ann, who had exited the elevator behind them, was watching him closely. The anger on Will’s face seemed to spur her into action.
“Pardon me?” she said stepping between Will and the guide. “Where’s the best place to view the bungee jumping?”
The guide snapped into a professional sounding tone, “Okay…friends and family are welcome to watch from the viewing platform.”
Skylee glanced over at Will who was slowly shaking his head. Then a couple of young women, dressed in orange uniforms, began leading the spectators to the platform. Ann stood motionless and watched as they prepared for the bungee jump. Her eyebrows were strangely twisted and her lips pointed downward as she looked on
“Are you okay?” Skylee asked her. “I’m sure it’s perfectly safe, after all you’ve bungee jumped yourself, plenty of times.”
“Yeah, mum, no worries. I‘ll make sure it’s safe,” Will added, without taking his eyes off the guide.
“I’m just being a mom, you know…mom’s always worry,” Ann replied then she slowly turned and walked to the viewing platform.
“Those of you who will be jumping tandem please stand to the right and the solo jumpers to the left,” said the guide as he motioned to each side.
Chrism and Will were among the first to be suited up for the jump. Will, who had bungee jumped dozens of times, looked as cool as a cucumber.
“Oh, Will I’m so scared,” Chrism said in a childish sounding voice.
Skylee turned her head and made a face. Just then, the guide began the countdown for their jump, her stepsister pleaded with Will to hold her until they leapt. Will complied, but his eyes were now focused on Skylee. Even as they plunged from the platform concern was written across his face.
One by one, the jumpers dived from the Sky Tower, some with squeals of delight, some with screams of terror, until Skylee alone remained. The necklace was so hot it was nearly unbearable. She considered removing it but feared she might lose it in the jump.
A shadow fell across the Sky Deck as the sun hid behind a cloud. The air grew still. It seemed that the entire world had gone oddly silent. Skylee looked across the decking in search of Ann who raised her hand in a funny half-wave. For a moment, Skylee had a weird feeling that Ann was warning her not to jump.
“Step over here, Skylee,” the guide said as his hand seized the back of her waist. “I’ll help you get ready.”
“Okay, thanks,” she said, watching him hook the bungee cord to her harness. “Wait…how do you know my name?”
Moving with lightning speed, he shoved her away and she stumbled backward until she was at the edge of the platform. She clung to the cord for balance. A glint of light caught her eye.
A knife. He pointed it at her and raised his other hand in a slow, deliberate motion, removing his dark glasses. No, how can this be? Skylee asked herself as she stared into his soulless black eyes. It’s him. The devil from the wedding had found her. Her visions were coming to life.
He slowly edged nearer, holding the knife between them. There was nowhere for Skylee to go but down and she wasn’t sure her bungee cord was completely secured.
“Please…don’t…who are you?” she asked, her mind racing. “Why are you doing this?”
“Give me the necklace,” he coldly demanded.
“I don’t have it,” she said, trying to sound convincing.
“It would be wise for you to hand it over.”
Skylee felt choked by fear. “Why are you—”
“Give it to me, NOW!” he shouted.
“I can’t it’s—it’s in my room,” she lied.
“No it isn’t!” he barked. “You’re wearing it!”
He rushed toward her, holding the cord in one hand and the knife in the other. Her feet were barely touching the edge of the platform. She struggled to peer around him hoping Will’s mom had seen she was in danger. Then a sickening realization hit her, Ann could only see him from behind. She couldn’t see that he was holding a knife. Gathering all her courage, she twisted and turned trying to release his grip on her.
“Be still,” he snarled through gritted teeth.
A scream rose from deep inside her, but it was quickly halted as he held the blade against her throat.
“If you don’t give it…to…me…I WILL TAKE IT!” he loudly growled.
Running the knife at an angle along her collar, he reached the chain of her necklace. Skylee felt the blade’s cold metal and gasped as it pricked her skin.
“Okay, okay you can have it. Just don’t…” she pleaded with him, but agonizing pain halted her words.
A burning sensation tormented her as the necklace slid across her chest. It eased slightly when he suspended it over her shirt, holding it by the chain with the tip of his blade. The corners of his mouth curved into a sinister grin and his black eyes sparkled as they fixed upon the amulet.
“At last, you’re mine,” he said, reaching for it.
The magnitude of his words triggered an overwhelming surge of willpower within Skylee. You’re not taking my father’s necklace, she thought. Using every ounce of strength she could muster, she pushed his arm away, throwing him off balance. She looked up and saw the necklace swinging back and forth on the blade. Then a silver flash crossed her vision as the knife came down and sliced her arm. She expected sharp pain, yet she felt nothing but cold numbness. There was only one way to escape him. Moving swiftly, she grabbed the necklace by its chain and stepped backward off the tower.
“NO!” he screamed, swinging the knife wildly.
For a brief second she felt as if she were hanging in midair. Then she watched in horror as he nicked her harness, severing partway through the fabric. His other hand was still gripping her bungee cord, which was now slipping through his fingers. It slashed a gash through his glove and deeper into his flesh, leaving a bright red streak. The last things she saw as she tumbled downward were his black eyes.
Skylee felt herself falling—falling—backward. Everything will be fine, the harness will hold, she told herself. When she reached the end of the cord it pulled taunt and sprung back. A feeling of relief swept over her. She had escaped the stranger and the necklace was still in her hand. Soon she would be safely on the ground. On her second trip downward she heard it.
The sliced harness had broken free. Skylee helplessly tumbled through the air watching the tower fly by. There was nothing she could do. The ground came rushing up at her.
We are thrilled to be part of a group of bloggers invited to reveal the cover of Elisabeth Wheatley’s newest novel.
The Chalice of Malvron is the third book in the Argetallam Saga.
A princess with no recollection of the past eight years. War on the horizon. Who to trust? Who to save?
Sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam wakes, sore and disoriented in the home city of her people, surrounded by relatives who seem concerned for her well-being. As she tries to recover, the Argetallams’ allies, the Stlavish, prepare to unleash a magical relic of untold power against the Argetallams’ age-old enemies, the Brevians. Janir watches silently from the sidelines until she meets a warrior elf and a strange wizard-boy who claim to know her and make her feel…confused. They claim that everything she’s been told is a lie, that her memories were stolen at the command of her father, the Lord Argetallam. As the eve of Brevia’s destruction draws closer, Janir finds herself with the power to stop the Stlavish. Conflicted and confused, she must decide whether she will allow Brevia to be conquered or if she will betray her father and destroy the relic—the Chalice of Malvron…
In celebration of this momentous event, Elisabeth is having a giveaway.
The first place winner of the giveaway will receive a giftcard and eight other lucky folks will be winning books from awesome authors!
Elisabeth Wheatley is a high school student home-schooled in the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is reading copious amounts of fantasy, playing with her little brothers, studying mythology, and training and showing her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnoz.
Don’t know what a Jack Russell looks like…here you go.
Sure, he’s Harry Potter’s best friend and confidant but this fiery redhead is more than meets the eye. Although his talents are rarely shown, he’s a powerful wizard, no doubt, otherwise he would never have survived.
You can call her a pixie or a fairy just don’t call her Wendy! Tink may be a little ill tempered and a lot jealous but in a pinch her pixie dust saves the day. And Peter Pan will never find a more devoted companion.
Not only is she the brains of the operation, she time travels and she has a purse that’s bigger on the inside! What more could Harry ask of a sidekick?
1. Samwise Gamgee
J.R.R. Tolkien Author
Who could be more deserving of the number one spot? Yes, poor Sam nearly drowned himself so he could traipse across Middle Earth carrying the luggage, cooking, keeping watch at night, and protecting Frodo from all manner of peril. And everyone knows the task of destroying the ring would have never come to pass without him. So hats off to the one sidekick to rule them all.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite sidekick that we left out? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
In The Primortus Chronicles Book One, Eleventh Elementum, Skylee Porter has a sidekick of her own. Her new step sister Chrism, a shapeshifter with attitude. Love her or hate her she’s a force to be reckoned with. To find out more check out our Pinterest Board Who is Chrism Faraway.
When J.R.R. Tolkien created the world of The Shire, Rivendell, Rohan and Mordor he breathed life into an enchanted place. Who wouldn’t want to stroll across those lush green fields and knock on Bilbo Baggins round door? Or maybe go for a adventurous climb over the White Mountains? But in more recent years Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring’s and Hobbit films have made Middle Earth an actual place, New Zealand. And the following quote seems to confirm that Tolkien meant it to be just that…real.
“I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century) of midden-erd>middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikoumene, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of that abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N.W. Europe), so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by enchantment of distance in time. J.R.R.Tolkien
Now you can go for a tour of Hobbiton in Matamata, NZ. and have a mug of ale at The Green Dragon.
L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen children’s books and six shorter stories set in his wonderful land of Oz. It’s a magical place with Munchkin Country, The Yellow Brick Road and The Emerald City. Of course, with the fresh release of Oz, the Great and Powerful, you can see it all in 3D. But have you heard of The Land of OZ park at Beech Mountain, NC? It operated as a small theme park from 1970-1980. And it’s now available for personal tours, birthday parties and private functions. The enchanting private garden is perched atop the 5,506 ft. mountain. So you really can take a trip over the rainbow and follow the yellow brick road right to the doors of Emerald City.
It’s first mention in the poem “Lancelot, The Knight of the Cart” gave no indication that it would become the kingdom of the legendary King Arthur and his queen Guinevere.
Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come from Caerleon, and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot as was fitting on such a day.
The word Camelot brings about visions of magnificent castles, misty forests, and the knights of the round table. But today if brings to mind Merlin, the BBC fantasy-adventure television program filmed in Wales and France. The castle used in the series is Le Château de Pierrefonds vu depuis le Parc located in Oise, France.
A fantastic village inhabited solely by magical beings. Just down the road from the Hogwarts school, near the Hogwarts Express train station, it’s a picturesque little town of thatched cottages and shops.
“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. All right, the sweetshop’s rather good, and Zonko’s Joke Shop’s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’s always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.” Percy Weasley
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” J.K. Rowlings
Now you can stroll down the cobblestone streets, buy a chocolate frog from Honeydukes Candy Shop, drink a butter beer at The Three Broomsticks, and pick up a wand at Ollivanders Wand Shop at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.
THE PRIMORTUS CHRONICLES ARE SET IN A MYTHICAL WORLD OF THEIR OWN.
A magical mixture of post-apocalypse, futuristic and the real world, well, sort of. From the shining city of New Washington to the candlelit village of Dunedinshire it’s overflowing with strange delights and mysterious places.
Skylee crept into the room, carefully avoiding the open suitcases, shoeboxes and clothing scattered on the floor. Dressing for the wedding had created quite a mess. She had wanted to clean it up, but her almost stepsister insisted that her father had hired people to do such things.
As she approached the package, her pulse raced. Skylee normally opened a present slowly and carefully like a doctor performing surgery, but her excitement made her eagerly tear through the wrapping.
Inside, cushioned on a bed of crumpled paper, was a brown leather book bound with four gold rings. A diamond shape was carved into the front cover. She held the book close to her heart realizing that it could be her father’s journal, a look into his soul. Turning it over, she examined it more closely and tried to imagine him holding it in his hands. Despite her feeling of excitement, a deep sadness washed over her.
Skylee reached up and pushed back the heavy curtains, flooding the room with sunlight. As she opened the book, a musty odor filled the room even though the cover looked new. She thumbed through the crisp white pages to find page after page of strange hand written lettering, which appeared to be an ancient language. Skylee squinted at the lettering and tried to make out the words.
Holding the book closer to her face, she decided it was a language she had never seen before. Her heart sank in disappointment. It wasn’t her father’s journal. Why…she wondered…why did my dad want me to have a book that I can’t read? She softly placed it on the table and sighed. Then her gaze returned to the package. Maybe there was something else…something that would explain it to her.
She ran her fingers through the crumpled paper and found a smaller box. Her eyes widened as she opened it and peered inside. The box held a beautiful necklace, which appeared to be very old. Upon closer inspection, she realized its dark gray metal shone like new, reflecting tiny flecks of blue. She had never seen a lovelier amulet. Her eyes moved back and forth from the necklace to the carving on the book. They were exactly the same size and shape.
Plucking the necklace from the box, she held it up by its long silvery chain. The medieval looking amulet swayed and sparkled in the light as if it were covered in diamonds. Its circular center was divided into four quadrants, each one with a distinct etching. She brushed her fingers across the symbols wondering what they meant, and then she turned the amulet over. On the back were more etchings. One looked like an inscription and the other was an odd symbol. They appeared to be in the same language as the lettering in the book.
Skylee didn’t know what to make of it, yet she had a strong urge to put on the necklace. Draping it over her head, she crossed the room and stood at the full-length mirror. Her blue eyes narrowed as she frowned at her reflection. She had tried to tame her wavy blonde hair into some kind of twist, securing it at the crown of her head in an attempt to look more mature. Now she wondered if it only accentuated her most embarrassing feature her protruding ears. She brushed an unruly curl away from her face and examined her pale complexion. Maybe the extra makeup was too much. She usually only wore a little mascara and tinted lip-gloss. She shrugged and made a face at herself in the mirror. Then her eyes settled on the sparkling necklace, which was resting on the soft green fabric of her dress.
“So, this is my inheritance,” she said, holding it up.
She curiously gazed at it and, to her surprise, white crystals were forming on its surface. Suddenly a sharp pain seared her fingers and she quickly let go, leaving it dangling from the chain around her neck. The amulet was as cold as ice. Confusion overwhelmed her. Her heart pounded loudly under the freezing metal. She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. But as if being driven by some force that she could not understand, Skylee walked to the book. She removed the amulet and, with icy cold fingers, placed it into the diamond shaped carving.
A brilliant glow grew from the heart of it, intensifying in brightness until its radiance held her gaze. Then without warning a jolt of energy surged through her fingers. She shrieked and tried to pull away from the book, but her hand wouldn’t budge. It was like a
heavy weight was holding it there. She yanked and tugged to free herself, but it was no use.
As she stood rooted in place, the air grew colder. Tiny clouds of white fog floated before her with each quivering breath. In astonishment, she watched as the brilliant light traveled up her arm, making its way to her chest. A tingling sensation spread across her body as if something inside her was struggling to get out.
Gasping for air, she looked down to see a whirling orb of light positioned directly above her heart. Like a bolt of lightning, energy poured through her veins and flooded her entire body. Then the orb burst forth with a column of light, which returned to the necklace still in her frozen grasp atop the book.
Skylee felt as if she were spinning around very fast. It seemed to go on forever. Then, at last, she felt herself coming to a halt. There was a prickling sensation as if dozens of sharp needles were piercing her hand. She carefully released her hold on the necklace and lifted her tingling fingers away from the book. Then, like fireflies flickering in and out, the light faded away.
Unable to look away, she held her breath as she opened the book. Shimmering words appeared on the once unreadable pages as if an unseen hand was translating a secret message. Skylee blinked wildly and shook her head in disbelief as she tried to focus on the page. More words, words she could read, materialized before her eyes. In one swift motion, she gasped, slammed the book shut, and fell back against the couch.
With her eyes shut tight, she could hear her pulse pounding in her ears. Slowly she lifted her eyelids and peeked at the book. She wasn’t sure how it was possible but it seemed to be breathing. Gripped by both fear and curiosity, she edged closer. But the book had changed. Only seconds before its leather had been new and its pages had looked crisp and white, now the edges were worn and the pages were yellowed with age.
“This can’t be happening,” she repeated till she stood in front of the book. With trembling fingers, she opened it and again the shimmering words appeared.
“It has begun…he shall not wait
to bring about a lifeless fate.”
She read the phrase over and over until her head was spinning. Then she cautiously backed away from the book and stood near the door.
There was a long moment of silence, which was broken by a faint high-pitched sound. Someone was whistling a familiar tune, like a child’s nursery rhyme. The slow dissonant melody sent a chill down her spine.
Suddenly a dark movement caught her eye, and the whistling fell silent. A man was standing there, at the window, his eerie silhouette backlit by the bright sunlight. Skylee’s pulse pounded in her throat. She huddled in the dimly lit corner, hoping she was hidden from view. Goosebumps covered her arms as a sinister creak filled the room, and the window swung open. She blinked and tried to focus her eyes.
He was tall, with black hair, and was dressed in a dark blue uniform. His face was so smooth it looked like a mask. The sunlight tinted his high cheekbones slightly yellow, but it was his black eyes that really scared her. They were like dark holes in his face.
The room was deathly quiet. Skylee stood motionless trying not to breathe, as sweat dampened her clothing. The man peered through the open window. He seemed to be scanning the area in search of something, until his eyes stopped at the open book.
“It’s true…it still exists,” he said as he effortlessly climbed over the windowsill.
His swift movement into the room made her let out an involuntary gasp. He froze, then spun around and peered into the corner. The moment he saw her, a low menacing snarl rose from his throat. Terror, greater than she had ever known, swept over her. She felt paralyzed as she stared into his eyes…blue into utter blackness.
Her eyes widened. She was unsure who had called her name. A sharp knock at the door caused her to jump. In an instant, the dark stranger turned and bolted through the window, which slammed shut behind him.
“Skylee, can you come and help your stepsister?” hollered Chloe from behind the door.
Exhaling in relief, Skylee staggered forward on trembling legs and collapsed onto the couch.
“Oh, yes, I…I’m coming,” she called out breathlessly.
She leaned forward and covered her face with her hands to calm herself, but the memory of the man’s black eyes were imprinted on her brain. With adrenaline still pumping through her veins, she struggled to regain her composure.
After several minutes her eyes returned to the window. It seemed to have opened and closed without him ever touching it. She stood, hesitated, and then walked toward it, carefully running her hands around its edges in search of wires. Nothing. As she nervously looked around, she latched the window and checked to be sure that it was locked. She drew closer to the glass and then quickly moved back in fear of his return. Who was he? Was he going to take the book?
“I’d better hide it,” she said under her breath. “But, where?”
Skylee explored the room looking for a hiding place. Inside a supply closet, she found a set of filing cabinets. She slipped the book into a file drawer under a stack of papers, then returned to the empty box and replaced the lid. The box shifted revealing an envelope underneath addressed to Skylee, from Mom.
She snatched up the envelope and turned to leave the room, but something stopped her in her tracks. She spun around and, against her better judgment, returned to the book. She reached out for the amulet, which was still tucked in the cover.
“Ouch,” she gasped, swiftly pulling back her hand and waving her fingers through the air.
It was hot. She stared intently at it. It defied all logic. She couldn’t believe it had gone from freezing cold to burning hot in mere minutes. How? And more importantly, why?