TRICKSTER (Book #0.2)
“He’s a sociopath, brother Quay, so have a care…”
Feigran was a normal seer once. But that was a long time ago.
He had a family, a home, a sister…
Now he is Terian, one of the highest-ranked seers in “The Org,” the feared dark seers who work behind the scenes to enslave humanity.
Quay is one of his subordinates, another member of the Org who hunts terrorists with the aim of recruiting them to their cause––a cause bent on taking over human civilization to ensure his own race’s survival.
Quay meets Terian while working a top secret mission in Brazil. When that mission takes a peculiar twist, Quay realizes he’s caught up in something much bigger… something that might just signal a new epoch in the war between seers and humans.
WARNING: This is a book that tackles some dark themes, with characters who are pretty dark themselves, and not really the “anti-hero” and “sexy but tortured” kind of dark, but the “he’s really dark and twisted” kind of dark. There is also M/M sexual content and themes.
SERIES NOTE: This is a Terian and Revik prequel novel in the apocalyptic Bridge & Sword series and companion to The Defector (Bridge & Sword Prequel #0.3)
From USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author, a psychic warfare adventure set in a gritty alternate version of Earth. Contains strong romantic elements. Apocalyptic SciFi. Psychic Romance.
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CHAPTER 1: THE RIVER
Somewhere in Afghanistan
Planting season, 1883
Feigran heard them arguing.
He heard the shouted back and forths, as loudly and as clearly as if he was in the same room. He watched their faces contort, the tears, the accusations.
He saw his mother pick up a small clay figurine, throwing it at his father. He saw his father bat it away, mid-air, only for it to smash against the wooden floor. Feigran heard his father’s voice grow louder, saw his face contort in fury, his eyes taking on that half-there quality, like he was channeling some spirit from another world.
He was channeling that spirit, Feigran knew.
He wasn’t allowed to talk about that, though.
The one time he mentioned it to his mother, she put a hand over his mouth, her eyes growing afraid. She told him never to speak of such things ever again. Her voice trembling, she told him both that he was imagining things and never to ever mention that spirit again––to never ever mention it around his father.
Feigran watched the shadowy form now.
He saw its tentacles where they strangled his father’s light.
He saw it change his father’s dark orange eyes, turning them nearly black, despite how bright they were when that creature wasn’t inside him.
“You aren’t supposed to talk about that,” a voice whispered next to him.
Feigran heard her, too, just like he had his mother, but he didn’t stop watching that dark, winged form inside the Barrier space.
“Fig!” the voice scolded. “Cut it out!”
He continued to stare up at the black-eyed demon as it flapped its wings in the Barrier’s dark. He felt the coldness of its light. He saw it feeding off his father in some way, feeding off his mother through his father as they shouted at one another.
She poked him with a finger.
His attention split that time, focusing partly on her. Some part of him continued to watch and listen to the demon though, even as he watched and listened to those flashes and sparks from his parents’ argument as they flickered in the dark spaces behind his eyes.
She poked him harder that time, making him jump.
“Don’t listen,” she scolded.
That time, he turned.
He refocused his eyes, remembering where he was.
Remembering where they were.
The river flowed past them, calm, gentle. They sat under a tree, on a clump of grass, about a quarter mile from the house where their parents argued.
Feigran looked at her.
His beautiful sister.
Her amber eyes shone back at him––the exact same color as his.
She smiled, pleased that she had his attention once more.
Her full mouth curved when she smiled, just like his mouth curved. She was missing a tooth, waiting for the adult version to grow in and replace it after it fell out after dinner a week before. Otherwise, her face was his. Her dark, reddish-brown hair was his. Her thin fingers, her high cheekbones, her pointed nose, the curve of her dark eyebrows, her long arms, her curved and full lips, her long torso.
All of it was his.
They breathed together. Their hearts beat as one.
Their blood, their light, the vibrations of their living frequency––all parts of them synchronized, like a symbiotic organism, its divisions only illusory.
Every night, they slept curled up around one another.
It had been thus, for every second of his life.
It had been thus, ever since they shared the same womb.
Second mind. Second heart.
He could not live without her.
He did not want to live without her.
“Feigran,” she said, soft, “Stop listening to them. Stop watching that… thing. You know he likes it when you watch.”
He was listening, he realized.
He was watching.
Most of his living light, or aleimi, had left the Barrier space, but he had gotten better and better at partitioning that light, at living and breathing and looking and thinking and listening from multiple places and vantage points at the same time. His father and mother marveled at his ability to do this. His father seemed both fascinated and resentful of this ability.
His mother seemed fearful of the same thing.
Unlike his father, her fear did not seem to be for herself.
Her fear was for him.
His mother loved him.
The thought made his chest clench, even as he looked at his sister.
“Stop looking at it!” she scolded. “You can’t save him, Fig. He doesn’t want to be saved.”
Feigran knew she meant their father.
He knew she was right. But a part of him stubbornly argued the point silently anyway. Or, perhaps more accurately, it refused to listen.
He did not know why he bothered. He could not keep anything from her.
Focusing back on his sister, he tried again to push his parents out of his mind, along with the winged beast his father welcomed into his light, even now––but it was difficult. The sounds and images came seemingly on their own.
They surrounded him, filled him, whispered to him.
He could not always control them.
He and his sister saw their visions together too, but not exactly the same way.
Feigran saw the things that would come, the things that were not yet here.
Tariana was the practical one.
She was the one who knew what to do with what they saw.
She was the one who knew what it all meant.
She was only a few minutes older than he was, but even now, outside the womb, she took care of him. She took care of him as no one else ever could.
“Sister,” he said. “What does it mean? Why will he not send that dark thing away?”
He knew she would know. She always knew.
She sighed, holding up a finger where a butterfly perched, its wings flapping slowly, rhythmically, like they beat to a hidden clock inside the earth.
“He is afraid, Fig,” she said simply.
“Is that why they fight?” he said, frowning.
Still watching the butterfly with concentrated, light-filled eyes, she shook her head slowly.
“No,” she said. “Not this time. This time, it is because of the man.”
Feigran’s frown deepened. “What man?”
“The man with the metal light. He has come here again. This time he intends to leave with one of us.” Her eyes shifted to her brother’s, serious, the butterfly flapping its wings between their two faces. “Father wants it to be you. Mother wants us to run before he gets here… to go into the mountains.”
Pausing, she shrugged, her eyes returning to the black and yellow butterfly.
“They are both wrong,” she said simply. “It is too late to run. And he is not here for you… not yet. He is here for me.”
Feigran felt his heart start to beat harder in his chest.
He felt it synch up with hers, felt her react to the changes in his aleimi, the jerked stop and start of the blood in his veins.
She gripped his hand, her amber eyes meeting his.
“Do not be afraid, brother,” she whispered, looking into his eyes. “For I have seen it, through your light.”
“Seen what?” His lower lip trembled. “He will take you from me!”
“No.” She shook her head, smiling at him.
He knew that smile.
Her curved, full lips turned mischievous, filled with that darker spark he saw in her sometimes, the part of her that scared him sometimes, even as he felt the more frightened parts of him that leaned on it, that breathed it in.
“No, brother,” she said softly. “No one will ever take me from you.”
Her fingers closed over the butterfly.
Feigran watched, fascinated, as she closed both of her hands into a cage around the butterfly’s wings, as she held it up, showing it to her brother.
“He will make us stronger,” she murmured, looking at the butterfly between her fingers. “We will become something new, brother. Something forever.”
Looking up from her finger cage, from the butterfly inside, she met his gaze.
“Then no one will ever separate us again,” she said.
He looked at her, wonder in his eyes.
“Never?” he whispered.
He could hear them coming now.
His ears could not hear them, nor could his eyes see them, but he felt them approaching the river, cracking and bending the grasses as they stepped across the field in their heavy leather boots. He watched insects leap out of their path, heard birds call to one another, telling one another of their approach, warning one another of the danger.
He could hear their breaths in the higher parts of his light.
They would be here soon.
They would take his sister with them when they left.
Just as she could feel and see what he felt and saw, he could feel and see what she did. Now that she had pointed it out to him, he could see exactly where to look in those spaces behind her eyes. The man with the metal light had come for her, just as she said. He could see their intent, as clearly as if they stood in front of him, speaking to him with their tongues and lips.
They would call her soon.
They would call her name.
His parents weren’t fighting now. They also weren’t coming across the field with the soldiers. The house by the small dirt road and the acres of tilled earth was quiet.
The man with the metal light was coming.
He would be here soon.
His sister’s fingers wound into his.
“Don’t be afraid,” she told him.
Leaning closer, she kissed his cheek.
“Don’t be afraid, Feigran,” she told him.
He watched as she opened her hands. The butterfly flew away, up to the branches of the trees by the banks of the slow-moving river. Feigran watched it go, feeling meaning there somehow, meaning that escaped his mind, even as he grasped at it. He followed it with its eyes as it darted among leaves and branches, feeling his sister follow it with him.
When the soldiers came, the two of them still sat there, holding hands.
Looking out over the sun-kissed water, they watched the butterflies flicker and flutter between the flowers growing along the bank, and they didn’t talk.
Then again, they never needed to.