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Authors: Laury Falter

Savior

BOOK: Savior
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Text copyright © 2012 by Laury Falter

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.

 

First Edition: October 2012

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

ISBN 978-0-9855110-2-9

 

For my nephews, Logan and Jackson.

May you grow up to love reading and writing as much as I do.

 

CONTENTS

 

1. MINISTRY

2. PRISON

3. COURAGE

4. INVASION

5. RESPECT

6. TWO PATHS

7. TRANSGRESSION

8. UNITY

9. DEFECTORS

10. LEADERSHIP

11. MALEKO

12. ATTACK

13. CELEBRITY

14. TRUCE

15. SURVEYOR

16. TRIAL

17. HOPE

18. ABDUCTION

19. PRISONER

 

 

1  MINISTRY

 

“This is foolish.”

In the last hour I'd heard this statement shouted five times by the same blunt and emotionless voice, and it caused me to grit me teeth a little harder each time.

I forced my jaw apart just long enough to respond, not caring that my voice was indignant. “You’ve stated that already, Theleo.”

“I’m hoping you will eventually listen,” he grumbled.

“Well, keep hoping….” 

Resentfully dipping his smooth, dark head, Theleo obviously disagreed, but said nothing more. I appreciated his silence. The fluttering edges of his black suit and the rush of air as it passed my ears became the only sounds I heard, leaving my thoughts open to roam.

Theleo had been repeating that uninvited truth for the same reason I had been ignoring it. We both knew he was correct. However, if it had been me in his place, I would have been more direct. I would have called what I was doing ‘insane’.

As if reading my mind, Theleo added to his warning, “Your family will consider your actions reckless.”

“And they’ll be right,” I said, undeterred.

“They’ll discover you’re missing soon enough and follow you.”

I flinched after hearing that possibility. I had intentionally left them behind because I’d decided before leaving the house that this wasn’t going to be a rescue mission so much as a sacrifice. It was hard enough to sneak past them and out the door undetected, only to find Theleo waiting for me outside, as if he knew my intentions before even I did. Only his threat to snitch on me convinced me to let him tag along. Now I’d have to ditch him, too.

  Stifling my fears, I retorted, “By the time they figure out where I’m going, it’ll be too late.”

Theleo glanced curiously at me, but I didn't elaborate. I’d said too much as it was. It was clear what he was thinking…

Too late for what?

Then, he made the most cutting remark yet, a final effort to convince me to act rationally, to turn around and forfeit my plans.

Keeping his eyes locked on me, he stated, “Jameson will not approve.”

A flare of emotion, warming me to the point of perspiring, forced me to turn my head in his direction; I noticed our speed increased, too, so I consciously slowed us down. While trying to control the warm stream of emotion coursing through me, I withheld the slew of words ready to spill from me, choosing instead to convey my fury with my eyes.

It was hard enough to leave Jameson behind, and being reminded of it just made it worse. Jameson was my rock, my inspiration; he's the person I confide in, and the one I rely on. For a person who grew up alone, that was an incredible feat. He was the one who filled the empty, lonely void in my heart. He knew my darkest secrets, my worst fears, and still he loved me. More importantly, he was the person I would do anything to keep safe. That reason alone motivated my legs, carrying me swiftly through the house and out the front door…taking me farther away from him.

Theleo surrendered to my decision by facing forward, no longer able - or willing - to endure my intense silent treatment, just as I intended.

I had been so focused on him that I hadn’t noticed the jetliner coming up beside us. Levitating a mile above the earth left me without much fear of a collision, but aircraft definitely posed a problem. They moved faster than I could.

The current of air coming off the plane's wing caught me off guard, disrupting the path Theleo and I had been on, sending our limbs flailing for stability. In the moments it took to realign our path, I saw a toddler staring out the window at us. She looked confused, like she was wondering how two humans could be soaring alongside her plane; and I caught myself wondering, albeit briefly, if she knew - or would ever know - that witches truly exist. Then she opened her mouth, preparing to draw her mother’s attention to us, and I dropped us from their sight.

Ultimately, the disturbance ended up being a pleasant intrusion on my thoughts; I needed to focus right now, especially since we were closing in on our destination - the south of France - where the European witch hunt began as far back as the 14
century and where the ministry had been built for that very reason. Unbeknownst to most, witch hunts were still ongoing – specifically by seven particular individuals - so I would be taking special precautions to ensure I set Theleo and myself down carefully out of view.

The sun had started to crest the horizon, leaving jagged shadows along the parched, grassy hillsides. It was my enemy for only a few minutes. The closer we came to the ground, the more we were visible. It did allow me, however, to observe the small hilltop town made of stone buildings. They resembled stairs running up the side of the slopes, leading us toward a castle perched at the very top.

“The ministry,” Theleo called out before I settled us down behind a cluster of trees.

Although I’d never visited the ministry before - my mother having made sure that would never happen - the conversation I’d overheard between Aunt Lizzy and Jameson’s parents disclosing directions confirmed that's what we were approaching.

We set out on foot, down a small, barren road winding its way to the first row of outer buildings. Although the area appeared entirely uninhabited, neither of us said a word until reaching the entrance. It was well-camouflaged, a simple, narrow opening between what appeared to be apartment buildings. Small windows lined with curtains appeared intermittently and were open, inviting in the brisk morning air. After seeing this, I had to assume there were at least a few people in the buildings.

“Where is everyone?” I asked, my voice on the edge of a demand.

“The Reception Room,” said Theleo, keeping his voice down, as if he were fearful of disturbing the hushed morning air. “This time of day is reserved for overseeing conflicts between people and provinces. Your hosts control the process,” he stated, cynically, because we both knew they weren’t my hosts. They were, in fact, subjugators.

We reached what seemed to be a main corridor between the buildings when I noticed movement. Dressed in a long, black cloak, the person appeared hunchback, like they were trying to conceal themselves in broad daylight. Walking briskly, they turned the corner before I could see their face from beneath the hood.

Another cloaked figure emerged, again hunched and with a hurried gait. It, too, vanished behind a different building.

“None of them are speaking, or even glancing up,” I mused out loud.

“Yes,” he replied simply, and his inference told me everything I needed to know.

These people weren’t reclusive. They were scared.

“Why do they stay here?” I whispered. Theleo kept up his pace as he answered. “You can’t hide from The Sevens for long.”

An icy chill ran down my spine then, confirming enough had been said. The point was clear. The Sevens controlled it all. Not just their little province on top of a hill in southern France. Our entire world, and everyone in it, was under their influence.

As I followed Theleo through corridors, up ancient staircases, and across courtyards, no one addressed us. They were fleeing far too quickly to allow any conversation. Instead, we quietly and unobtrusively invaded. It wasn't until we turned our final corner and faced the fortress looming in front of us that we heard a single booming voice. It sounded cold, dominant.

“You chose to counter our judgment?”

If the person responded, it wasn’t at a level audible to me.

A moment passed and a scream rose up over the stone buildings, reverberating through the barren; automatically, my footsteps quickened in its direction.

Theleo’s hand wrapped around my forearm, slowing me.

Afraid he was attempting to restrain me permanently, I whipped my head around, demanding an explanation with my glare.

“It’s best if you enter unnoticed,” he said and bent to pick up a pile of black fabric from a basket arbitrarily left on a doorway step. Allowing it to unravel from his fingertips, I recognized it as a cloak, the same kind we’d seen the others wearing. Holding it out to me, he silently insisted I put it on.

When I hesitated, he looked at me skeptically. “I don’t steal,” I explained flatly.

He stared at me, thoughtfully, before withdrawing two coins and dropping them in the basket where the cloak had been.

Only then did I drape it over me.

He fitted the hood over my head before allowing me to pass, one last effort to keep me safe as long as possible. Strands of my inky-black hair spilled out on both sides, wrapping around the base of my neck, but I didn’t bother to tuck them back. The breeze generated by my pace was enough to do that for me.

“You’ll need one, too,” I noted.

He agreed and proceeded to swivel his head from side to side, scanning each corridor as we came across them. A determined manner settled over him while he did this, reminding me that he was a Vire. Even if he had defected, there was no mistaking the focused resolve he’d inherited from his years of training.

Once finding a basket several entrances down an alleyway, he came to a halt.

“I’ll be swift,” he said, insinuating I should wait for him.

It was good that Theleo didn’t know me all that well. Before he’d taken his second step, my feet were already moving again, carrying me fast enough around the last few corners to lose him.

I told myself he would be safer. This approach was better. He couldn't place himself in any greater danger if he wasn't with me. He could leave, without any undue self-criticism on his part. Yet, even as I took the winding steps that led to an archway appearing to be the entrance, I knew I was fooling myself. Despite Theleo’s reputation as a notorious enemy, he had shown nothing but concern for my wellbeing since I’d met him. Nothing seemed to deter him, unfortunately.

Draped in foliage, with a mural decorating the entrance, the foyer almost felt welcoming. If my purpose here wasn’t to sacrifice myself, I might have actually appreciated the beauty of it. And then I saw what had been painted.

With the enchanting countryside as a backdrop, men dressed in black cloaks and wearing moldavite stones were attacking men, women, and children. Daggers were poised above their victims and blood pooled on the ground below them. All of this took place while seven individuals sat on thrones above, observing.

It made me pause. Not because of the blood, the inane violence, or the warning it clearly was meant to convey.

I wanted to see The Sevens.

A quick assessment of their renderings told me that there was little similarity between them. They differed by race, gender, and age; there was no single preference for a particular clothing style. Some had piercings and markings that looked like tattoos. Yet, the connections they did share were starkly apparent: their odd, translucent skin, the enormity of the moldavite stones they wore, and the fact that none of them were smiling.

I heaved a weighty sigh, preparing to face them in person, and headed for the door. This was not going to be easy.

Inside, the room was cavernous, windowless, and encased in shadows. The morning sun streamed in behind me and from doors on all sides, illuminating the sea of black cloaks in front of me, with one exception. The front of the room was reserved for elaborate, jeweled thrones built in a semi-circle. Seven individuals fitting the renderings in the mural outside were seated in them.

I made my way through the motionless crowd, gently edging forward, a trek that took a remarkably long time. No one spoke, other than two men appealing their case to The Sevens. It seemed one was accusing the other of casting against him for no apparent reason.

There was no sign of the person who screamed earlier, an eerie reminder of exactly how the rulers of our world dealt with flagrant violations.

And then the first one of The Sevens recognized me.

I was close enough by that point for my face to become visible beneath my hood, something I discovered as the woman in the first throne on the left straightened up.

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