Hello! Just a couple of things before you begin your journey into the world of Antera!
This is indeed the second novel in the series. It is a continuation of the first novel, but you will be able to follow the story, as I will be sure to provide several instances that relay back to events that occurred in the first novel that will explain why things are going the way that they are.
Secondly, there will be words that appear to be typos, but they are actually pulled from a language that I have created to accompany this series as it moves forward. The Pancovian dialect is derived from several different languages, and will be explained at length after the story.
Otherwise, enjoy the ride through the world of Antera!
Leona Stirling stared off into the star spattered violet void of space that was visible through the top of the hollowed out tree that was deep within the darkest shadows of the Fallen Dove Forest. Leona rested for many sun cycles, waiting for the gloom of dusk to fall all around her each night. As each duae-lun cycle came and went, she felt her strength returning to her scarred and formerly broken body. She had discarded her bloodied top a few miles outside of Indigo City, making certain that she would not draw attention to herself; she used the dark magick of the shadows to cloak her upper body from the perverse eyes of the Anterans; her only issue now was that her entire upper body was exposed to the chilly weather that had begun its descent upon the city. After walking for what she imagined was several hours, she sought out refuge within the hollowed out centre of a large, ancient oak tree that grew within the most obscure, untouched area of the wood. Aside from the fact that it took away the chill of the ever growing night, she didn't want to expose herself to the few and far between passers-by in the area. She found it odd, but there was always someone out in the most obscure areas, doing something that would be frowned upon by the other citisens. There were no trails in this area, and the land itself was still green in a few places even though it was within the time of the frozen cycle.
She found herself satisfied with the absence of the chilling wind that had pounded her bare upper body minutes before and decided to take the time to come up with a plan of action. In the silence of nature, she noticed that she could hear every sound, from the two derles that stalked through the brush whilst scavenging for food, to the random chirping of the nightwyrds and various insects. She couldn't block them out, no matter how much she waved her newly awoken abilities. "Ugh, nature in the Frost cycle," she scoffed. "I should have found a better location to hide and perhaps risk the hypothermia," she mused briefly, before the echoes of a clear, rich tenor vibrated through the vestiges of the woods and surprised her to silence. The voice was filled with compassion and hate.... No, a righteous hatred, Leona thought. It was a hatred that nearly matched the intensity of her own, the intensity of that which she felt towards her own flesh and blood. It was that same righteous hatred that allowed her to grow that initial dislike that was planted into the fertile soil of her tainted heart into full anger and loathe her younger brother. Linx was always the one that received everything he'd ever wanted in life, and even though he left her and their mother behind so many years ago, he was all their mother would talk about. No matter what Linx did, he was the Spencer family's greatest export. Leona took a deep breath in an attempt to forget about Linx and their doting mother. The sound of the preachy voice echoed through the Dove's forest to her again, and she suddenly found herself enticed by his words. As she listened, she guessed that he wasn't too far away from where she was resting and hidden away from the chilly weather that had suddenly taken grip upon the world. She sat back against the cracked bark of that hollowed out tree, her hands resting in her lap as she listened intently to his message.
"...Here in my hands, the word of the one true God! The one that will come to deliver us from this abyssal crater we have dug for ourselves within the throes of technology and the pursuit of humanity's destiny! If we were meant to know what humanity's destiny is, then I tell you that by the grace of the one true God that He would have TOLD us what it was! It's time to stop, before it's too late! Brothers! Sisters, I know you hear and understand what I'm saying, that the time has come to break away from the surly bonds of the nonbelievers, the ones that claim to be Gods themselves because of their ability to create and expand on these machinations that are supposed to make everything easier for us in the long run. Why do I say that? You all want to know? He told me so, and I wouldn't say something like that without explaining it further. You see this book that I hold in my hands? It's older than each and every single wonderful person here at this congregation tonight. It’s even older than the texts that those heathens would have you believe Antera was created with! A friend of mine, I'm sure you know him as the famous archaeologist James T. White, found it while working on an excavation dig in the valleys of the original Ghanon. It was deemed, and I quote, ‘A totally valueless object that caused a lot more problems than not in a time that the world needed to progress; instead, it regressed into mass wars.’"
A voice cut in before the preachy man could continue on. "Excuse me, Mr. Mayor-"
"Now now, Callare…you know what we discussed about using our real names."
"I-I'm sorry sir, I meant no disrespect-"
The voices faded then, too hushed in the cover of the sounds of the forest for her to overhear whatever else the Mayor had to say. Leona smiled to herself because of the new information that she'd obtained about the identity of two of the members of the cult that met out here in the night. On top of that, the Mayor mentioned that there was an old text that helped him to form this cult. That was something she knew she would have to find a way to look into at a later date, maybe persuade this Mr. White to give her information on this so called prophetic tome. She tilted her head, checking to see if she could hear the voices again. When no sound came, she rested back against the bark again and closed her eyes as she began to ponder what happened to her.
“The Etev saved me,” she whispered to herself. “I was well on my way to the other side, and the Etev yanked me away from the abyssal ledge. Maybe...maybe this is a guiding light? Or steps of some sorts to allow me to forge my own path and begin to build my legacy." She chuckled softly at the irony of her situation, sliding her hand over the freshly sealed hole that the Wendigo had left in her body a few weeks back. "No one even attempted to save me. Not even my own flesh and blood." Her fingers continued tracing the jagged scars of the wound from the Wendigo absentmindedly as she continued to think out loud. "Not only will he pay, but I'm going to make his life horrible….Starting with his new play thing."
She grinned in the darkness, realising then that she would have to coerce the Mayor into doing the same thing she had planned for Linx's vampire friend. In reality, the idea of using a man didn't move her that much. She replayed the sermon over in her head again, and began to poke hole after hole into his logic. "I never did like religion," she murmured softly to the tree bark that surrounded her as she began to fall asleep. "Mr. Mayor, you claim that your One True God is of the male variety....Well, my dear, I think I'll have some news for you very soon. A little bit of good...and a whole lot of bad."
Isles of Senoise, New Ghanon. Mainland North.
Jacques, Evelyn and Levin departed from Okracle Island with Alex Hashimoto in tow. The two vampires had agreed to let the boy live, but only as a servant to the three of them as long as they worked together. At the end of their time together, he would return to the Fae Prince's encampment on the outskirts of the Wounded Dove Forest. When Alex first attempted to interject, he was met with a firm backhand slap from Evelyn, who'd said to Levin more than Alex, "An indentured servant must learn his place," as she readjusted the many rings on her fingers. Many of those rings had connected with Alex's bare skin, and unbeknownst to his captors, he could sense every element present in those rings, from titanium and nickel to silver and platinum. As Alex traveled with them through the rugged streets of the Isles of Senoise restrained by lengths of rope and chain, he began to formulate a plan to make his escape from the clutches of these…monsters. He’d never thought of himself as a hater of the supernatural, but the more time he spent in captivity with the two vampires and Fae prince, the more he found himself wanting to see every single one of their kind dead.
One thing he knew for certain was that at some point they would have to return to the mainland, to Sanus, and perhaps even Indigo City. He’d overheard the pirate vampire mentioning it one night after they’d searched one of the lower isles of Senoise. If they were to do so without learning that he could shift his body into the metals present in the rings on the lady vamp's hand, he could use it as an element of surprise to stun them as he made his escape. Where he would escape to, the Gods only knew. He knew that in order for this to work, he would have to time it perfectly, especially since he'd only have one shot at the attempt. He didn’t know exactly how to go about provoking the lady vampire other than simple disobedience, due to her erratic emotions. After that first strike, he’d suffered from three more over the few weeks that they’d spent searching for whatever it was they were looking for. So instead of attempting to draw their attention and her ire, as the days progressed Alex became docile. He grew into his role and became more and more obedient as he bided his time, praying to the Gods that demonic trio would make their return to Indigo City. He not only missed the city, he missed his best friend and roommate, Jacob. Who knows what shenanigans that guy got into without him there to keep him in check? Alex knew he was the only thing that kept Jacob from going out every night, because that was Alex's thing. Without him there to balance out the temptation, Jacob could be drunk and partying with a ton of hot girls! Without his best bro! The thought of Jacob pounding beers and making it with multiple women made Alex laugh at the most inappropriate time--Ayether's Best had just returned from another attempt to locate "The Artefact" that the Oracle had informed them about, and it had been yet another abject failure on their behalf. He’d only recently learned of it, when Levin drunkenly let slip that they were out to change the world to benefit the supernatural over the Anterans.
Evelyn stepped out of the elevator, clad in a blood red cowl, black triple strapped high heels, and a form fitting, hip showing rouge red knee length dual strapped dress. Jacques followed behind her quickly, attempting to get her to calm down, while Levin seemed unfazed by yet another failed attempt at finding what they’re looking for. Evelyn’s face was stony; she was doing everything in her power not to explode as she listened to Jacques’ attempts to settle her down. She stormed down the carpeted corridor towards their hotel suite for the week. As Alex heard the rough vocals of the vampire pirate echo out over the balcony, he went to open the door for the trio, just as the absurd thought of Jacob attempting to drunkenly seduce women crossed his mind. He opened the door with a slight grin on his face, only to come face to face with a practically snarling pit bull in Evelyn. As they took each other's expressions in, Alex felt as if the entire world has frozen. He felt the fear of the vampire that had only just recently receded resurface, and he was now certain that he was going to die today as her face reached a new level of rage that he didn’t think was possible. A certain quote came to his mind in that moment. "If looks could kill..." Richard Grieco had never met an angry ancient vampire in his lifetime, apparently.
"What are you laughing at, meat bag?" she snarled as she lifted Alex from his feet with one hand around his throat. If there's one way to humiliate a man, it's to have someone half a foot shorter than him out-power him after years of weight training. Alex attempted to speak, only to let out a gargled response as Evelyn's grip tightened around his throat.
As Jacques took a seat in a tie-dyed chair next to the curtain covered window, Levin cleared his throat from behind Evelyn. "Need I remind you of the deal we made, Evelyn? I need him alive. We need him alive. Besides, I'm certain there's a particular reason as to why he's laughing. Am I right, Alex?" Alex's hands struggled against Evelyn's sinewy grasp as he attempted to speak. When nothing but a harsh whisper escaped, Evelyn lowered him to the ground, and shoved him away from her with a look of distaste. She turned her attention to Levin. "Control your slave. Our failure is his failure, and he needs to know that."
"How could he have known that we failed in our search if he's forced to remain locked here? He has proven that he is loyal to our cause, yet you choose to leave him here, locked away like some pet." Before Evelyn could respond, Alex pressed the up button on the remote as he held on to his throat with one hand. He coughed furiously after he gulped down too much fresh air at once and forced himself to get a small bottle of mineral water from the mini refrigerator as the anchorwoman spoke on the current events of the news.
"This is Connie Whitland with the ENN News in the Afternoon. Today, we have an ongoing search for a missing woman, an attack on the city of Indigo, Sanus, why gas prices are dropping and more! First, we'll take a look at the attack on the city of Indigo that left twenty-five dead, fifteen injured, and the entire city holding its breath in fear after the longest delta-cycle of the city's recent history. Officials of the city state, and I warn you that his words were graphic, that 'a giant, white haired beast appeared in the city suddenly one morning, its body completely covered in fur. Most of us thought it was just an act, because the circus was in town, but that theory went out the window the moment it grabbed a man around the waist and bit his head clean offa his shoulders.' There will be a mass service for the lives of those that were lost in this crisis, and we at ENN want to wish the families of the victims all the best going forward. Our hearts are with you at this time." Connie paused for ten seconds before she turned to a different camera with an awkward smile planted on her face. "Up next, we'll take a look at why there is a manhunt for a woman that went missing two delta-cycles ago! More when we return from break."
The television began to run an ad for fungal cream before Alex pressed the mute button on the remote. Evelyn turned to him, the look of disdain eased some, but Alex could still see some of it in her eyes. Before she could speak, Jacques' voice floated from the corner closest to the door of the hotel room. "Looks like yer big ol' monster did it's job, aye?" Alex laughed, but it sounded more like a pained sound than one of joviality.
Evelyn's eyes stayed trained on Alex as she responded to Jacques. "Aye, that it did, vampirate." She used the term mockingly. "You seem to know something that we don't, meatbag." She grabbed his shoulder, her nails pressing hard against his skin. "Why don't you tell us what it is? How did you know about the Wendigo, because I do not recall ever mentioning it around you."
"I...overheard..." was all Alex could manage to get out, his voice hoarse from the choke hold Evelyn had on him minutes before. He placed a hand on the area softly and winced as he touched it. He knew that a bruise was going to form there and that it would be a deep one. He added that to the list of transgressions against him on the part of Evelyn, and was counting down the days to when he would be able to deliver his own brand of justice to the three of them.
"Evelyn..." Levin's voice interrupted Alex's train of thought. "He can barely speak, why not allow him to write down what he knows?"
She pressed her nails into his arm a bit harder before she shoved him away and onto the bed. She turned her attention to Levin, the Fae Prince sitting cross legged in a chair next to the old television. "Why are you so insistent on keeping him alive? What i he to you?"
"He... is a bargain that I hope will allow me to return to my home without issue, if you must know."
"What? What do you mean?"
Levin shook his head slightly as he reached into the bedside table drawer and pulled out a pen and a small notebook. "That is a story for another time, my dear fanger. For now," he paused as he tossed the items to Alex, "We must focus on the task at hand, and that is, why did your beast's rampage stop as suddenly as it began?"
"I too would like t'know why that be th' case, Evelyn," Jacques chimed in as he sat forward in his chair. "Y'said yon beastie would be nigh on impossible t'kill."
Evelyn turned away from Alex, who was writing furiously on the notepad to avoid her gaze, and faced the television, which was now showing a muted Connie Whitland. She thought about the possibilities of why her unstoppable beast was stopped, and before long the realization of what the most possible outcome was set upon her. She lifted her shoulder, then lowered them as if she took a deep breath, but since vampires didn't have a need for breathing, it was more of a calming exercise for her. She turned back to the three men in the room and rolled her eyes as she said, "We need to go back to Indigo City. I need to speak with my son."