Tuesday, June 16, 2015

World of Dusk: The Shadow

It has been far too long since I've last posted on here. However, I've got great news! Starting this week, for the next six weeks I'm going to be posting a series of short stories that all tie in with the world of Noreis from The Raven of Dusk series. You don't have to have read The Raven of Dusk before reading these. Look forward to each of those, once every Tuesday, and then a video log from me on Thursdays. If all goes well/according to plan, I extend this to some of the first few chapters of The Raven of Dusk: Transcendence as well.

All of these short stories will be published and available on Amazon as well. I'm going to promote them for free as much as I can, otherwise they'll be $.99 cents a piece (or you can just read them here for free!). All of this will lead up to the release of The Raven of Dusk: Children of the Rain in early August. For those of you have read Transcendence and have hounded me about the release of CotR, thank you :D. No seriously, you won't be disappointed. I think CotR is the best thing I've written thus far. I'm working on the third book right now as well. It is currently untitled.

To read book one in the series: The Raven of Dusk: Transcendence click here

Before I get further ahead of myself, here's the first of the origin series: "World of Dusk: The Shadow"

World of Dusk: The Shadow

It moved between the tall buildings that suffocated the light with its massive stone walls. Jaiden had to look directly at it to see a darker figure haunting the shadows in the absence of the moon. He saw it every night for the last four nights on their way to the temp houses he and his older brother slept in. They walked side by side, almost in a line with the others that were given slips with the location of their housing.

“Ugh,” Ruben scoffed, keeping a firm grasp on his younger brother’s hand. “It’s even smaller than last night’s.”

Ruben tried to keep walking, but Jaiden was fixated on the figure in the alley. Each night he saw the faceless creature, it was always somewhere different. The first night he saw it staring down at him from the top of a building. The way the moon was cast behind it made it glow eerily like a wingless angel coated in shadow. Since then, he’d seen it watching through a window, then from behind one of the many desecrated statues of King Ratone. Jaiden didn’t see it last night until he woke in the middle of the night and stepped around the other unfound to get out of their shelter. The figure watched him from beneath a street pole with a snuffed out flame. Its presence puzzled him; it bore a human’s form like a shadow that escaped from someone’s body.

He didn’t know what to make of his watcher. He thought for certain that it would make contact, or attack him, or say something through its absence of a face. It did none of those things. Not until he dreamed…

Jaiden smelled the ripe old man before he bumped into him. His boney hip grazed Jaiden’s face and he nearly toppled over. “Move, boy!”

Ruben gasped and thrust his brother forward. “Jaiden, c’mon! We need to claim our spots.” In his other hand were the two slips and the address printed on them. He glanced worriedly at the house with cracked stoned and boarded windows. It couldn’t have been more than a single room. The roof was unintentionally concave on one side, threatening to soak those beneath it on one of those rare rainy nights. “I don’t think they’ll have space for all of us.”

Jaiden faced the line of others behind him, and the bright, boisterous lights of one of the noble districts somewhere far away. If Ruben was right, these people hadn’t figured it out yet. Ruben thrust him forward before he could count the people in line. When he did, he was taken away from his vantage point between the two tall buildings and the alley where the shadow watched in silence. Whatever it was, he was sure he’d see it again the moment he closed his eyes…

Ruben had trouble sleeping that night. He didn’t usually have problems sleeping in temp houses no matter how uncomfortable the hardwood floors were, or how boisterous the snoring was all around him. He was used to bending in awkward angles as he and the others were cramped together, coating the floors with members of the lost. There was no way to get a good night’s rest while Jaiden was repeatedly kicking his back.

“No… no,” his younger brother whispered, still dreaming. His body was contorting in bizarre directions as if he was being electrocuted in his slumber. The others around them groaned and growled while getting whacked in the head and sides with Jaiden’s flailing limbs.

A woman old enough to be their great-grandmother snarled, after Jaiden clocked her in the jaw with his tiny hands, and shoved him away.

“No!” Jaiden screamed—this time loud enough to wake the others around them while his seizure-like movements continued. “No! Don’t take me! Don’t let them take me!”

The old woman hissed in Ruben’s direction. “If you don’t do something about your brother, I will throw him into the streets myself!”

“Be quiet, woman!” came from the haughty voice of a bearded man on the other side of her.

Others were grumbling as well, and Ruben knew that he had no choice but to wake Jaiden before the woman made good on her threat. It was a cold autumn night. Even though the city-state of Ratone was surrounded by deserts to the north and south, the breeze from the ocean carried all the way into the city. They couldn’t afford to catch a cold or get sick. Jaiden was all he had now. Their younger brother, Minnow, died of an infection the year before. Ruben tried to get a hospital to treat him, but the doctors would only help him if they had the money to pay for his treatment. The upper class ignored the rest in Ratone, leaving the other 90% to suffer well below the poverty line. Foreclosed and abandoned homes turned into homeless residences. A nightly shelter away from the cold was all the “noble class” would provide.

As he left, carrying his dying baby brother in his arms, he overheard a doctor say, “We’re flushing out another rat. Maybe my property’s value will finally go up again soon.”

Minnow was dead two mornings after. He and Jaiden cried for a week.

Ruben shook his brother awake. They couldn’t afford to be kicked out. He couldn’t risk losing the last person he had in his life.

Jaiden’s youthful eyes opened up and he was oblivious to the angry scowls on the faces of everyone else around him. His brother wasn’t one to see negativity. Ruben and the other members of Ratone’s homeless called themselves ‘the lost,’ but Jaiden said that they were ‘unfound.’ The connotation was cute, but also na├»ve; two words befitting of his little brother.

“You were tossing and yelling in your sleep again,” Ruben whispered, trying to keep his voice down.
Jaiden frowned and looked upon his brother with watery eyes. “I’m sorry. It was the shadows. They were after me.”

“The dark played tricks on you. You don’t see anything in it.”

“But I do!” Jaiden was quickly shushed by someone behind them. He blushed and spoke quieter.  “But I do. They move at night as part of the darkness. They come out where the moon and the lights can’t reach them. They see me without having eyes and they say that they’re coming for me.”

“You had a bad dream. Go back to sleep,” Ruben replied. Hopefully his nightmares wouldn’t continue this time. They were happening more and more frequently. Whatever Jaiden thought he saw stuck with him. Ruben only wished he knew what it was so that he could rebuff his brother’s concerns.

Ruben realized that he would not be going back to sleep some time later, long after his brother started to join the chorus of snores all around him. He lay awake, thinking about his brother’s words only until another reality came to mind. As uncomfortable as he was in the crowded room full of wheezes and loud exhalations, the smells of the others were far worse. The temp houses rarely had showers and, in the rooms as packed as they were, the odors emitted from sweaty bodies compounded upon one another. There was no escaping the scents of rotting fish and mold; these people were decaying all around him.

He stood up carefully and watched his footing, doing his best to step around the others so that he wouldn’t wake them. Ruben crossed the room successfully and made it outside where the wafts of fresh air kissed his skin and washed away the smells he inherited inside.

The city lights glowed orange and white and the streets were paved in discarded trash and crumbled papers. Half of the street poles flickered on and off like degenerating life support monitors. Abandoned fruit stands were erected by the sidewalks on the dirt sidewalk. Vendors could longer afford to maintain them with all the thieves running around and no one with money to buy from them. Nothing remained in this district of Ratone—or most of them, for that matter. People lived either on the streets or living in mansions on the far end of town. There was no middle ground.

A girl with long silver hair made into pig tails sat beside an older woman. Both leaned against the house, likely too late to get a seat inside. The girl was bundled in rags that were probably given to her by the old woman, who wore very little and let the slow gusts of wind soak her bones. Ruben wondered if she’d survive the night, though he was certain she’d been through this before.

“There it is again,” the girl muttered beside her. Ruben didn’t realize that both of them were awake.
He stared forward at the cracks of light that attempted to brighten an alley between two large buildings. Jaiden was glancing at it before, allowing for his mind to see shapes that sprang to life in his dreams.

“They have returned to Ratone,” the elderly woman said through clicks of clattering teeth.

Ruben approached them, hugging himself as the next gust of wind slipped through the tiny holes in his brown rags. The girl couldn’t have been older than his little brother, while the elderly woman may have been as old at the stars in the sky. Several others were huddled on the ground besides the building, all asleep. These two women were all that remained.

“My brother thought he saw something, too,” Ruben said, leaning beside the cold wall next to them.
“The shadows have appeared the last few nights,” the elderly woman replied. Her face was gaunt and bore extra skin that sagged as time’s cruelty withered her. “I wonder how many they’re taking this time.”

Ruben cocked his head. “What do you mean?”

“You are too young to remember when they were here last. They scarce show their face in the outer world, but Ratone has always been a popular harvesting ground for them.” The elderly woman didn’t take her eyes off of the thin alley between the buildings that were once home to great businesses.

Ruben stared carefully into the alley while the moon slinked behind a pair of thick, heavy clouds. A darker, deeper shadow coated the dirt pavement of the streets as if a large flying object hovered over them. The alley became harder and harder to see, but he was already envisioning a creature inching closer to the edge of it, keeping it’s claws just inches from the last rays of light that weren’t coated in the absence of the sky light.

“A girl disappeared in the temp house I was in three nights ago,” the bundled up girl on the other side of the old woman said to her. “She slept right next to me. I felt a cold in my dream, and then I thought that I saw this mass standing over me, staring down at me without a face. When I woke, the girl was gone and not a single person saw what took her.”

“A young boy vanished from mine as well,” the old woman said. “I gave him my space in the room, then watched him step outside in the middle of the night. He looked to be in a trance and sleepwalked toward a building, the same one that someone pointed at a figure inside of it earlier that night. He never came out. A few of us inspected it the morning after, but there was no trace of the boy or his captor. If they are here tonight, then someone was taken last night as well.” She sighed. “I wonder how many they’ll reap this time.”

Ruben thought about going inside. He could stay up at night from now on and watch his brother sleep. Jaiden was having nightmares for days and kept muttering about these creatures of nighttime. He tried to point them out to Ruben, but Ruben never saw. He wondered if Jaiden was hallucinating. Maybe he wasn’t getting enough food or water. Ruben could only scrounge up so much for the both of them. There was barely any to be found as it was.

But if this girl and old woman spoke of the same shadows, then it couldn’t be something that Jaiden had just made up. If children were disappearing…

Both Ruben and the girl leaned in toward the old woman, who had a straight vantage point of the alley just across the street. He hoped that his eyes would adjust to the dark well enough to see these moving shapes that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. Several minutes went by and Ruben squinted harder, making out cracks on the inside of the walls that he couldn’t see before, as well as the outside of a trash can that overflowed years before. Flies would emerge from the alley and then sweep right back in, swarming around the trash that coated so much of Ratone’s pavement. He watched and waited for something to appear. He watched and waited; watched and waited.

His head grazed the old woman’s shoulder. He hadn’t realized how much of her space he was invading, but, when she didn’t mind, he placed the rest of his head on her shoulder and continued to watch for shadows in shadows with glossy eyes. Ruben’s vision grew fuzzy and the gentle gusts felt like they were giving him chilly, but consoling hugs.

Its face nearly touched Ruben’s nose, but Jaiden was right: It didn’t have a face. Its head was oval-shaped, but there was only darkness in place of its sockets, nose, and mouth. There was nothing there but the frosty breath that tickled his cheeks, then around the back of his neck and down his spine like a small creature with prickly icicles for legs. It towered over him; the full size of a human being in human shape with four limbs. It looked like the negative of a moving photograph.

Ruben couldn’t move in its presence. He tried to remember the old woman’s words about the reaping or the recruiting—or both. He couldn’t leave his brother behind. It couldn’t be him that disappeared tonight.

The shadow’s face was replaced with a fabric like rough, unshaven hair that scratched the tip of his nose while vacant eyes inspected him. He half-expected to hear a grumble or growl—or perhaps even words! But nothing emerged from this being; nothing but thoughts Ruben felt his own mind tell him. If he was next, he would never see his brother again. 

A hand appeared slowly and slid across his face. He could feel a rough leather-like fabric cause his skin to tingle, and then finally a word that he recognized clearly. “Sleep.”

“She is gone,” were the first words he heard as he came to. He picked his head up from the old woman’s shoulder and squinted his eyes as Hela brightened the buildings around them. He must have fallen asleep out there. That figure staring at him was all just a dream.

But then he noticed that the woman’s other shoulder was vacant. There was no girl still sleeping against the outside of the house. Something happened in the middle of the night, and Ruben could only draw one possible conclusion.

“They took her,” The old woman said, more drop to hear herself speak than to convey the news. “They scooped her right from my shoulder as we slept. They made her vanish from our world.”


“She is gone,” the woman snapped. “She is gone... I had only known her for a day, but I promised I’d keep her safe.” Her words rang with sadness, but her eyes bore little more than stoicism. He gathered that she’d endured too much in life to be phased by the disappearance of a girl she barely knew.

“Jaiden!” he gasped. Ruben shot up from the wall and spun toward the temp house, where he thrust the door open and caused a pair of men next to it to jolt and wake in the sudden blast of light Ruben let in with him. Beyond their scorning looks and contorted bodies, Ruben cast his eyes around the room in search of a boy half everyone’s size. He came to a quick relief when he stood Jaiden on his back in the room’s center, sound asleep and snoring as loudly as the drooling elderly man next to him.

Ruben shut the door before the two woken man could protest, then let out an uncontrollable yawn. He didn’t get enough sleep the night before. How could he, while he joined two women in staring into the empty space where a creature one resided.

“I saw it come toward us,” the old woman said, all but yawning herself. “It emerged the moment I grew tired. It stood on two hind legs and had a man’s walk. It approached you and then… then I slept.” She grimaced, looking at where the girl had sat beside her, just hours before. “Jefra is now for their harvest.”

Ruben had so many questions that it was difficult for him to think of which one to ask first. “W… w… what are they?”

“Help me up, boy. My bones are not what they used to be.”

Ruben rushed to her aid and clasped onto one of her hands. The flesh had left her some time ago, and she was more bones than human. The old woman winced as he helped her to her feet. Her joints grinded more than a vehicle in desperate need of an oil change but, when she reached her feet, she didn’t topple over and break into a thousand pieces. Even nearing a natural death, she was stronger than she looked.

“I helped you, now tell me,” Ruben demanded. “What are these things? Why have they been taking kids—and why didn’t they take me? I saw one last night. It was closer to me than you are now.”

“How old are you, boy?”

Ruben had to think of the answer. He and his brothers had lost their parents some time ago and with his parents went the ability to tell the day and the times. He could only take his best guess, give or take a year. “I am eight.”

“Then you are too old,” she replied.

“Too old for what?”

“They do not prefer those with clear memories of our world. These creatures prefer youth that knows nothing more than what can be taught to them.”

Ruben frowned, recalling Jaiden’s nightmares and the reason for why he was awakened in the middle of the night. “My brother has seen these things, too. He says that they are shadows. He screams ‘don’t take me’ in his dreams, and when he’s been able to see them for almost a week now.”

The old woman’s eyes grew as white as a bed of snow. “I had a brother once, many years ago. We shared a room in a home just a little larger than this one. He would toss and turn in the presence of the moon with closed eyes and gasps full of anxiety and fear. I woke up to his screams for three days, and then, on the fourth night, I stayed awake and kept my eyes barely open while he slept peacefully. I thought his string of dreams was over, but then a saw the shadow reach from our closed window. It let the frost in with it and slipped into the room with its long sable limbs. It didn’t make a sound as his slid its body under the barely open window. Not even the floor creaked beneath its feet. It glided over to my brother’s bed. I tried to scream, but I felt as though all sound was taken from between my lips and I watched as my brother was lifted from his bed and whisked away in the dead of night. I could do nothing but watch, dazed as if I’d been dreaming about it.” A hundred years of sorrow cast a shadow under her baggy eyes. “The neighbors said that my mother’s screams were heard from one end of Ratone to the other that morning. She’d been inconsolable for months, and eventually her grief caused her to take her life. My father made me never speak of it again. He would hear nothing of shadows, or even acknowledge that my brother ever existed.”

Ruben’s mouth fell open a little, but no words could come through them.

“I saw him once again nearly thirty years ago. I couldn’t see his face in the shadows, but I knew that it was him. I watched him take a child, just as he’d been taken. And now another has been recruited whilst fast asleep on my shoulder… I doubt that they are done. Their harvests are sporadic. Sometimes just one will be taken, other sometimes it could be several weeks’ worth of children. We’ll never know until they disappear again.”

“Why do they take children?” Ruben asked. “What are they?”

The woman’s old white eyes glowed in the light of Hela in the sky. The rays cast upon her traced each wrinkle of her skin as if a toddler drew on her face, but her expression was anything but friendly. Her attention was quickly drawn over his shoulder.

“They are demons,” Jaiden’s mousy voice said behind him. Ruben frowned when he turned around to see his brother standing just outside of the door. He couldn’t imagine what he could be thinking if he’d heard the old woman’s story. How long had he been out there listening to them?


“They came out of the shadows again,” he said. “I saw them in my mind. It was a little girl this time—my age, I think. It took her deep into the shadows, where the darkness all merges together. It will come again tonight.”

“Yes,” the old woman said. “And tonight it will come for you.”

“Hey!” Ruben exclaimed, but Jaiden’s gasp demanded more of his attention than the old woman as she sauntered away, down the streets and around the piles of trash. He turned to his little brother, whose eyes welled up with tears. If Jaiden were to cry, he wasn’t sure if he could keep it together. He was still reeling from last night’s disappearance and the nonchalance of the old woman. Only one person in this world truly mattered to him anymore.

Jaiden hugged him tight. Ruben kissed his little brother on the top of the forehead as he whimpered and dampened his shirt.

“I don’t want them to take me,” Jaiden grumbled. “Don’t let them take me…”

Ruben’s best idea was for them to walk as far away as possible. They couldn’t go to the authorities because he knew that no one would care about them. Serenity Seekers had more than once proved to be just as useful as Ratone’s doctors. If they walked out of the city-state itself, then maybe the shadows wouldn’t follow them. They were plenty of other “lost” children to harvest, or recruit, or whatever that old woman was griping on about.

Hela didn’t escape through the clouds that day. The skies were cast in gray and the surrounding houses paled to browns and whites, having lost their vibrant colors long ago. Ruben wasn’t sad to cross the borders of the city of Ratone itself and step out onto the desert sands. They were cool on their bare feet without the heat to catch their grains afire. Ruben knew of several nearby towns just beyond the city. He hoped that they could reach one of them in a day, though he didn’t know how many miles away they were.

The two spent most of the day in silence, both lost in their own minds, their feet digging into the grains as they climbed up and down the ever-changing landscape that the winds formed for them. They kept walking straight but, as the day wore on, Ruben couldn’t help but wonder if they were going around in circles. Everything in this vast desert looked the same. Every time they stopped to rest or pee, he knew that they were at risk of changing course—especially without Hela to guide them.

It wasn’t long before Jaiden was fatigued, having no food or water all day. He took a seat in the sand at the base of a dune while another, much larger dune, was up ahead. His clothes were drenched in sweat and his lips were chapped to the point of bleeding.

Ruben no longer had any idea where they were. Leaving Ratone was a horrible idea. And nighttime was coming. If the shadows came for them, they would have nowhere to hide.

His little brother started to cry again, licking his tears as they came close enough for his lips to catch. “I don’t want them to take me… I don’t wanna go…”

Ruben frowned and cast his eyes on the darkening sky. It was too late to get anywhere now—even back into the city. Their best bet would be to climb the tall dune in front of them and look around for the lights of Ratone to guide their way. They wouldn’t last more than another day in the desert, especially if the clouds went away. He began to climb the dune, but Jaiden wasn’t following.
His little brother remained planted at the base of the dune with his legs crossed and his face in his hands, continuing to sob. Jaiden wasn’t going to be getting up anytime soon.

Ruben returned to him and wrapped his arms around him tight, getting a quick flashback of how he held Minnow before he died, and then of how their mother held all three of them before she faced the same fate. That seemed like so long ago, back when they had a house and a full family. Everything went wrong these last few years.

“It’s going to be okay,” Ruben said, but he knew he didn’t sound convincing. “We’re going to be okay.”

Jaiden’s voice was barely audible through his tears. “Can I… can I see it again?”

Ruben nodded and withdrew from his pocket the other token he had left of their old life: a wrinkled picture of their family during Minnow’s first birthday. It was blurry and accidentally dampened a couple of times, but they could still make out baby Minnow’s bright-eyed grin and lit up face while their mother smiled with her arms around all three of them. It was one of the last happy days they had before an air shuttle crashed through their mother’s bedroom. It took less than two days before their house was raided for all of their valuables, leaving them with nothing but a picture to remember things by.

They lay in the sand, with Jaiden in Ruben’s arms, as they stared at the picture and didn’t say a word. The sand caressed and cradled their backs while they lie there and Jaiden slinked under Ruben’s shoulder. They stared at the picture for as long as they could, before Ruben’s arm was too tired to hold it up, while the white clouds darkened as the moon took to the sky.

Jaiden’s thrashing woke Ruben up in a panic.

“No, don’t let them! I don’t want to go!”

“Jaiden!” Ruben said, shaking him awake again.

His little brother gasped for air, then opened his eyes, going from dreaming to fully alert in less than a second.

Ruben hugged and held him as tight as he could. “It’s okay, little brother. It’s okay. It was just a dream… only a dream.”

Jaiden wasn’t responding. Ruben heard him breathe just fine, but he could sense that his brother’s attention wasn’t on Ruben cradling him. And then he felt his heart begin to race, and Jaiden wasn’t hugging him back. He looked into his brother’s eyes and saw the reflection of a figure in them.
Ruben spun around and saw it peering down at them from the top of the dune, cancelling out the swirls of blackened clouds behind it. Then another appeared beside it. And a third. And a fourth.

“They’ve come for me,” Jaiden whispered, looking too petrified to move.

The creatures leapt from the dune and came hurdling toward them like a cascade of demons that danced on the top of the grains they propelled down. They were so quick that Ruben barely saw their feet move as the faceless creatures grew larger and closer like shadows trying to reclaim their human forms.

“Jaiden—run!” Ruben grabbed for his brother’s hand and leapt to his feet. He started to run but was jerked back when he saw that Jaiden had yet to move. He was too enamored with the creatures racing toward him, threatening to consume him in their shadows.


The second command knocked some sense back into his brother. He blinked and quickly spun around, fighting to get to his feet. Hand-in-hand, the two raced across the desert toward the dune they’d gone gown while the shadow creatures bolted towards the bottom of the sand tower they came from. Ruben pulled Jaiden along and made great strides that Jaiden struggled to match with his shorter, stubby legs. He felt Jaiden’s grasp weaken and suddenly his little brother slipped and fell to his hands and knees on the dirt.

Ruben spun around and made a desperate grab for his hand. Jaiden reconnected, but as he did Ruben looked on helplessly and the creatures were quickly coming upon them. Their shadows were painting the sands at their feet and starting to eclipse Ruben and Jaiden’s own. They couldn’t give up. They had to keep running!

The sand reached up and clawed as their feet. Each step was a battle to remain on top of the sinking grains as they came to the next dune. Ruben shoved his feet into the sandy hills and made footholds that his brother could follow. He nearly fell forward, so with his free hand and buried into the dune he scaled it furiously as Jaiden’s hand grew sweaty in his palms. He didn’t dare turn back to see how close the shadows were. They didn’t even make a sound!

He was almost able to see the top of the dune. He tightened his grip on Jaiden’s hand as his brother panted and moaned. Then—

“No! No!”

Ruben was jerked backward and spun around as Jaiden’s hand slipped from his grip. He gasped as he watched his brother slip backwards into the arms of one of the shadows, and then the others began to cover him.

“Ruben! Help!”

Ruben didn’t think before he jumped toward them, his limbs outstretched as if he was falling from the sky. He flew down onto the shadows and felt one of their hands grab at his shirt. He caught a quick glimpse of Jaiden’s terrified eyes before he was thrown forward again, and then he went from flying to falling further and further down the dune as the shadows completely restrained Jaiden from reaching out toward him. The usually soft sand felt like a million tiny rocks as Ruben crashed onto them and his vision grew blurry. He could still hear the screams for his name, but they grew further away and quieter.

Minutes later, he was the only thing left in the desert. Him, and the picture beside him of the family that once wrapped their arms around him.

Many years later…

They sat in their usual seats in the Decision Room. He looked at Mont-Blanc to his left, then Jayla to his right. Both of them sat at their triangular desks while he placed his hands on his long, sleek one that took up nearly the entire wall while the mural of the Raven was placed prominently behind him.

“You’re looking morose today,” Mont-Blanc said in his haughty voice. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes,” he lied, but they didn’t need to know that things weren’t. “Jayla, you are certain that we need more children?”

Jayla nodded, but was far from smiling. He wondered if she was feeling the same way that morning. 

“It is the only way to keep our numbers up. Our soldiers grow older by the day, and our harvesters and our staff are getting weak. When we find the child of mixed breed, he’s going to need us to be at our best.”

“I know that I don’t need to remind you how essential it is, for the whole world, that we keep our numbers up,” Mont-Blanc sneered. “No leader of the Ravens of Dusk has ever allowed our ranks to slip this low.”

“Yes, I know,” he replied with a sigh. “But… does it have to be Ratone?”

“Yes,” Jayla and Mont-Blanc replied in unison.

Mont-Blanc went on, “It is the easiest place for us to take children. We’ll be doing most of them a favor. They already consider themselves children of the lost.”

Those words caused his unintentional grimace. “Do it then.”

Mont-Blanc and Jayla obliged and left him to his lonesome in the massive room that he’d earned the right to sit at the helm of. However, no amount of power could keep him from the memories that never stopped haunting him. He wondered how many of the new recruits would feel the same way that he had when he first joined their ranks. But those weren’t thoughts that he was allowed to have anymore. After all, they weren’t stealing children of the lost. They were finding children that were going unfound…

To read book one in the series: “The Raven of Dusk: Transcendence” click here

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