Saturday, March 10, 2018

Enlightenment excerpt

I present the opening two (unedited) pages of Enlightenment:

On the viewer, a dark cloud coalesced into semi-solid shadows standing two stories high. Monsters from the most horrid nightmares, they flowed like smoke with each movement as if not really there. More than a dozen materialized around the man lying on the ground. Twice as many red eyes glinted with malicious intent. Wings folded to their backs, and tails lashed. 
Lilly saw herself running to cover the weakened and unconscious Darrac, who had shrunk from being one of those monstrosities, his daemon form, to the man she loved. 
Her chest ached to watch the events unfold. Pieces came back to her memory so that, as the light flared to blind the camera, she felt the eruption of desire to defeat the daemons and save Darrac. 
She barely saw the lone pair on the grassy hill through the blur of tears that burned her eyes. She remembered that day. And with it something else that stabbed her—Mychel's betrayal. 
She clamped her teeth on the anger threatening to spew from her mouth. 
"I didn't understand," came a voice from the man beside her. "You were right. You were right about him. He was more." 
Sure, he said that now, but he had been willing to kill her to free the luriel attached to her life. 
The sharp lines of Commandant Renvil's face could have cut Mychel down cleaner than her anger ever could, granting her a small satisfaction. 
"You didn't want to understand." Lilly remembered that much about why she had been reluctant to tell him where she was. It should have been enough that she reassured him she was all right with Darrac. "You should have stayed away." 
Mychel's grimace was small comfort that he felt shame for his actions. He should have thought of that before acting. 
"Miss Lowreth." 
What did he want? The commandant was as much to blame. He must have given Mychel the location of where she had asked to be dropped off in Casanna Province that had led to the loss of Darrac and the hole in her heart. 
"What can you tell us of these…creatures?" 
She'd have a few words with Mychel later. The sooner she finished this interrogation by the Peacekeepers, the sooner she could return to contacting the luriel spirit within her to search for Darrac in the Shadow Realm. 
"Miss Lowreth?" 
"Daemons," she finally answered. 
The heavy sigh of exasperation from the commandant was not unexpected. She hadn't believed in any of this a few cycles ago, until she lived it. 
"Are they a threat?" he asked. 
"They kill to maintain their forms in this realm, this…dimension." Maybe he couldn't accept the term "realm"—mysterious and ancient in a way that described fictional creatures and myths. But dimensions; scientists had debated the existence of other dimensions. "They're from another dimension with…different energy, different time. Because of that, they can't simply exist here. They need to absorb our energy." She swept her arm around to encompass all of Ahlias. "They need that to maintain their form here, otherwise they are only strong in their own dimension. 
"That's why…she took him." Darrac wasn't from the Gray Realm. His injuries had been too severe. 
But he might have recovered with the bridge in his fortress, if he'd had that chance. 
"Who took…I assume you mean Darrac was the other man that was with you?" 
"Yes. His mother took him back to the Shadow Realm. Our medicine can't heal them, like our weapons can't hurt them." 
The Peacekeepers had been watching everything. It would stand to reason that the Eternals also had their own way of observing. 
Lilly stared at the last image still frozen on the viewer—her lying unconscious over Darrac and Mychel sitting by them. If the Peacekeepers had that recorded, they must have had everything on their carrier recorded. Everything…including the scenes of her life and Mychel's life before his Awakening. 
Another realization struck. They weren't the only ones involved. 
Her breath froze—The magi! 
She would have time to worry about them later. She could check in once she was free from the Peacekeepers. 
Now, he wanted to know about Darrac.
(c) 2018 Melanie Nilles and may not be reproduced without permission.

Enlightenment is coming in June 2018!

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