Bridge & Sword Series #10
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For the light must die as we are reborn.
The stars must fall as the Thousand rise.
The end must come before the sun returns.
In this final installment of the epic science-fantasy series, Allie and Revik fight their final war of all against all, facing off with the Mythers, a silent, behind-the-scenes army of religious fanatics.
While Revik and Allie try to pull the pieces of their life and marriage back together after the nightmare of their last mission in China, Myther armies pop up around the globe, murdering seers and humans and taking over quarantine cities left over from the human plague. Worse, the grisly, ritualistic murders aren’t just sadistic, but part of a millennia-long plan of the Dreng to leave Earth, destroying the planet and murdering most of its inhabitants in the process.
Allie and Revik have no time left to fix things between them – and no future left to put things off. Cobbling together the last remnants of their forces, they launch a final counter-offensive, teaming up with unlikely allies and using every weapon left at their disposal. Only together with their entire dysfunctional “family” of seers and humans can they change the course of history and forge a new hope for both races.
*Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young readers.*
SAMPLE PAGES -
Cold. Unfeeling. Inexorable.
Always lurking, always waiting to rear its head.
It is the first thing––the last thing.
In the end, it is the only thing they remember.
Hunger touches them with long feelers, reminding them, pulling on them to get what it wants, stinging them subtly to warn them when they get too close to its hotter edges.
Avoiding hunger requires discipline. It requires structure and form. Hunger forces solutions, for hunger is incapable of compromise. It is incapable of stopping its own forward march. Hunger cannot be reasoned with.
Hunger cares not about means.
Hunger cares only about being fed.
They are hungry now. More hungry than they have been in as long as they can remember, and they can remember a very long time. Their minds grow frantic under that hunger. At the same time, it focuses all their energy, their will, their cunning to a single point. Loss of control, fear of stillness and profusion, fear of pain from the light––
All of that awaits them when the feeding ends.
They cannot feed on one another. It is like sand eating sand.
They cannot feed on the sun, or the other stars.
They have no one else left, so they call on the loyal.
They call to those who listen in the dark.
They call on the Knights of the Last Days.
Those last loyal servants are the only pure thing left in that fallen, sunken world. They are the only thing that can save them from being consumed by oblivion.
Everything they were taught was to prepare them for this day.
* * *
DEIFILIUS opened his eyes, frowning up at a curved white ceiling.
The voices receded into the background as he felt himself wake. It was like a dimmer switch being turned down, but instead of disappearing entirely, as they might have done even weeks ago, they remained there, whispering behind his eyes, and they did not move away.
They were louder now.
They were louder now than they had ever been.
They were louder today than they were even the day before.
Deifilius had never heard them so loud––nor in so much pain.
Folding muscular and slightly hairy hands over his thick chest, Deifilius, or “Dei,” as his closest friends and colleagues in his order called him, let his mind fall into passivity. He adopted an open, waiting demeanor, hoping it might bring his teacher to him.
He needed him now.
He needed him to tell him what to do.
Clearly, something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
The voices wanted his help; they needed his help. Whatever occurred, it disturbed his angels, the Silver Guardians, a great deal. Deifilius could not remember a time previous when they called out to their warriors on the ground in such a single-minded and desperate way.
As he lay there, however, in the predawn light, his teacher did not come.
The silence grew heavier, more oppressive.
Cautioning patience, Deifilius waited longer.
His body lay on a plain white sheet, on a single bed in an unadorned room with blank walls. Those walls housed no monitors, no synthetic lights, no mirrors, decorations, personal items or access panels. Apart from the bed itself, the room held nothing but a few spiritual texts in the original paper and leather bindings on simple wooden shelves.
A skylight provided illumination in the cell while the sun was up, or on those nights of a particularly bright moon or stars.
Otherwise, Dei used candles. He used them primarily to read, or when he felt the need for light during meditation, or simply to see the faces of his fathers.
It was not a prison cell. Living this way was not a form of punishment, self-imposed or otherwise––although Deifilius knew many who would consider it such.
He thought of it as a monk’s cell, not dissimilar to how he’d lived as a child. As an early recruit to the order, chosen by El Patrón himself, he was given a small room off the head abbot’s quarters. He only learned later what a great privilege this was.
As a child, he’d been too young to understand.
As a child, he focused on all the wrong things about his upbringing in those snowy mountains of Argentina. Like all children, he’d wanted life to be easy, sacrifice-free. Like all children, he’d been forced to grow up before he could fully appreciate the gifts he’d been given, the extreme favor bestowed on him in his being singled out in such a way––and, more than any of that, what those early years of suffering truly meant.
He had help, of course, in understanding these things.
He had so much help over the years.
El Patrón was generous. El Patrón spoke to him, even at an early age.
Those murmurs grew louder as Deifilius grew bigger; in part, he suspected, because he learned to actively listen for them.
He also learned to take their advice.
He learned to let the angels guide him.
By the time he was nineteen, the voice of his Patrón became the most important relationship in his life. It filled the silences, kept him from loneliness and confusion. It remained his constant companion all the way into adulthood––teaching him, advising him, guiding him, reprimanding him, prodding him to action when it was required.
It showed him the ways and deceptions of a godless, chaotic world.
It showed him the decay, the dark underbelly of all that looked beautiful to his young eyes.
Deifilius took those lessons to heart, once he was old enough to take them in.
Even now, he worked hard to never forget who he was. He worked hard to maintain his discipline, his alertness to the dangers in the world.
This room was a case in point.
Despite the fact he could have lain on beds of gold-woven sheets for most of his last forty years, Dei slept in simplicity to better see the face of his God. He eschewed personal luxury in favor of having an uncorrupted place to think and pray.
Everything in his life––everything––was structured around the need of El Patrón, around the silver angels who spoke through him, around the One True God. He strained for their voices in everything he did, in every decision he made, in every order he gave.
Their silence now worried him.
Much had happened in the past few years.
The human-killing plague started things, by showing humanity its true face. The mask was ripped off, the veneer erased. Deifilius felt nothing but joy in his heart as he watched the descent of ordinary people into chaos and hopelessness. He knew it as the first, necessary step for his brothers and sisters on their path towards the One God.
First, they must realize the depths of their own corruption.
Deifilius understood this. As a result, he never despaired. Never once, in all that time, had he felt the events he witnessed went against God’s sacred plan.
Never, that is, until now.
Even the corruption of the Holy Bridge and Sword had precedence in the sacred texts. Even that sad and disappointing betrayal had its place in the tapestry of history. The fall of humanity was necessary for humanity to evolve to its next stages. The world would burn, all the sacred texts said, both human and seer. Like the Phoenix, it could be reborn.
Still, El Patrón warned Dei, more than once, not to underestimate the forces living in the dark. Those forces could undermine the progression of history totally if allowed to grow and spread unchecked. They could undermine everything the Silver Guardians spent so many millennia preparing for in readying mankind for its ascension.
Dei feared those forces must be at work now.
He was about to get up, to begin his day for real, when the voice he most desired to hear, the voice he lived and died for, finally rose in his mind.
You are wise, brother Deifilius. The words were a caress, soft in his mind. You are very, very wise. Just as I knew you were, even back when I first found you all those years ago, you remain wise now. That perception of yours never seems to fail you.
The voice paused, but the presence did not recede.
When it spoke next, it was gentle.
As you surmise, it is time. It is time to do that for which you have been trained, brother Deifilius.
Dei froze, opening his eyes up at the skylight.
The light through the glass pane had grown brighter in the few minutes he’d lain there. Gazing up at those first few streaks of sunlight, he took a breath, relief warring with fear as he felt the disturbance in his teacher’s light.
Was it who you thought? Deifilius asked. Was it her? The––
Yes, his Patrón cut in. It was her. Her and her mate. It pains me to note how she has corrupted him. He is beyond redemption now. Beyond where his soul might ever recover.
Dei winced, feeling that pain with his master.
“May she feel the fires of hell for what she has taken from us,” he murmured, making the sign of the cross. “May the gods of mercy miss her on this night.”
The silver light flickered around him, a cold whisper of affection for his devotion.
All is not not lost, Brother Deifilius, it murmured, still sending out reassuring tendrils of silver light. The Holy Dragon has done us one last kindness before he left this plane. He has cleared the path to paradise, removing the last obstacle in our way…
Behind his eyes, Deifilius saw a pattern of lights shining, glowing in bright spots all over the globe. They shone like stars, glowing brighter and brighter as he watched.
His heart caught in his throat.
“The doors,” he breathed. “He has opened them.”
He has opened them.
“Then paradise is at our doorstep at last––”
If you can hold onto it, my devoted brother. If you can prove yourself worthy.
Shifting to one side, Deifilius sat up, using taut abdominal muscles to raise himself to a seated position. Sitting there, naked in the early light, he thought about his master’s words, combing the dark, curly hair out of his face. Once he had, he frowned down at his bare feet, which also wore a light coating of black hair.
“Then it is come,” he said aloud. “The Final War.”
His master’s voice was matter-of-fact, stripped of emotion.
Yes, my loyal, beloved friend. They will do anything in their power to stop you. You must waste no time, or they will destroy all that you have fought and suffered for. His voice grew more gentle. I am afraid we have failed to prevent this occurrence, or its necessity. War can no longer be avoided. Real war is finally here.
The being paused, its mind still as a windless lake.
Will you take up the torch, beloved brother? his master asked, soft. Will you fight this war for me? For the salvation of your race?
Gazing into the darkness at the room’s empty walls, Deifilius smiled.
He had no need to answer.
This, like so many questions in his life, had been answered before his birth.
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