And so begins the end


In about a month Destiny of the Departed will be available. It begins immediately where Tome of Tubal-Cain ended. Books will be available internationally on Amazon or locally through Dartmouth Book Exchange and Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles. They can also be published directly from the author. Any locally purchased books can be autographed.


Have a read of how it begins:


Bruce Sutherland angrily fisted the ancient note and glared into the rain. The note read:


July 12 it begins. The veil between this world and the Otherworld will drop. Something will pass through. I don’t know what. But pay attention and don’t worry. Now is not the time for action. Stay in Yellowstone. –Bruce


Jamie was out there this supernatural storm. And “something” would pass between worlds. Yet now was not the time for action? He was a man of action, and doing nothing left him frustrated and angry. He crushed the note tighter and shoved it back in his pocket.


He had a pocketful of these notes. All of them meticulously dated and with instructions on what to do on a given date. All were written in his own hand.


How he’d received them was outlandish. An Egyptian man had delivered them almost a year ago. His explanation? For generations his family had protected a small box containing the notes, although they had never opened the box to discern its contents. But there had been instructions with the box. The instructions were precise on when to deliver it to him on Halloween of last year. The instructions included directions (and a map) to his apartment and described him down to the clothes he’d be wearing. Oh, and the instructions had come with modern currency to pay for transportation between Egypt and Scotland. Even the instructions had been written in his own hand. To say this was extraordinary was to oversimplify the ramifications of how this had come to be.

His time for action would arrive soon enough, but for someone like Bruce, waiting without knowing was unbearable. Where was she? Was she safe?


***


I tugged Jezebel, the runaway dog, up the riverbank as a blood red flashflood obliterated the area where we’d been standing next to the river. It continued to rain hard, and I still clutched the mysterious object I’d—we’d—unearthed. I took a moment to catch my breath and steady my pulse. I regarded Jezebel, who calmly returned the look without flinching. She had been terrified only moments before. Now everything, even a raging river, seemed insignificant.


Her eyes observed what I held: a long, narrow leather case. I flipped it around. The dog flopped on her haunches and regarded me through heavily lidded eyes as casually as if she sat in a living room. We stood on a rock outcrop halfway up the riverbank. She sniffed curiously at the object.


“You’re weird.” I told her while examining the leather case.


“She…” the Chorus of Voices resumed.


“Don’t.”


A flood of joy fiercer than the river washed over me. “Shecomesshecomesshecomesshecomes!” I felt their joy as they proceeded, whizzing in my left ear then right. In music, you’d call this a Baroque counterpoint—a relationship between voices that is harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and contour. Google it if you want to know more. I did.


“Where is Eliyana?” I cried into the rain.


“Here! Open it.” The Voices leaned close. A hand rested on my shoulder. There was an opening at one end. I reached in and felt cold metal. The invisible knife that had been hacking at my elbow took another stab. I nearly dropped the leather case. In the unlikely event I missed what was happening, a Voice screamed its solo above the storm, “She is our leader!”


“Eliyana isn’t here!” I screamed back. I studied the sky just in case the storm was a prelude to her arrival. It was not.


My hand encircled the metal.


The Voices continued to cry out, but I no longer heard the words. The chant grew breathy and hurried until they and the wind could no longer be separated. The metal reacted to my touch and grew warm. My elbow throbbed with power.


“God, no. This can’t be!” I yelled into the storm as I released Lumen from the leather.


Lumen. Here! “No, no, no! This is all wrong.”


***


Not so far from Bruce’s location, a woman lifted her face and screamed in demonic delight into the raging storm. Rain and giant hail pounded the earth around her. She stood, naked and red, unconcerned by the strong winds that ripped at her hair. None of the hail came close to hitting her. Had it, she could have been badly injured.


Nearby buffalo clustered in herds, protecting their young and old against the storm. The woman observed them with curiosity. One was close enough to touch. Tentatively she traced a hand, feeling the coarse hair about its head. It snorted softly but didn’t flinch. She had never touched an animal. Normally buffalo were shy of humans, but she didn’t smell human. The woman had no knowledge of buffalo or the potential danger in spooking one. She petted another then turned to regard a thermal pool a few feet away. It was but one of many that dotted the plain. It sputtered and spewed steam, hissing in rage each time hail smacked its surface. A scrim of steam fought its way through the rain, crossing over the woman as if to hide her nakedness.


The cataclysmic power of the storm had opened the gateway between realms, allowing her to cross. It had still been challenging to climb up and out of the thermal pool, but she had made it. It felt as if she’d been reborn, birthed by the pool. At long last, she had arrived. She leaned back and laughed again.


***


Charlie Morton drove back to the house he shared with Bruce Sutherland. “Blimey, what a day!” Besides Old Faithful ceasing to erupt and the ensuing chaos, a storm of phenomenal proportions had hit. Thousands of tourists standing around a mute geyser were pelted by heavy rain and hail. Bruce had been more than right this morning when he’d said today would be one hell of a day. Charlie was ready for a beer. Or six.


The roadway was littered with branches. Charlie swerved around a large branch when something darted into the roadway in front of the truck. It walked on two feet and was tall like a man. “What the—?” He braked hard.


He wiped his face with his hand. He closed his eyes, trying to recall what he’d seen. His brain functioned in partial thoughts as he reasoned through the vision.


A figure walking on two feet. Hair. Long, flowing hair. Red hair. Not a bear. Definitely human. Naked.

“A naked woman, blimey!” He sat for a second behind the steering wheel. Had a tourist become stranded? She was tall for a woman—basketball player tall. Thoughts rocketed through his head as he tried to justify what he’d seen.

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