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The dawn of the Aurora.
Preview Chapter 1
Gabriel sat in a wide window seat, his legs outstretched in front of him, looking out at the night. He stared past the reflection of his silver eyes, past the sleepy old city sparkling with lights, and past the starlit night sky into the heavens that existed beyond. A long time had passed since he’d spoken to the Divine and even longer still since the Divine replied. However, something in the universe had been calling him for days and he needed to answer.
He raked a hand through his black hair soothing away his annoyance, unfocused his vision on the world, let go of everything that was human, and concentrated. His mind opened to the infinite knowledge that settled into him. In what felt like the blink of an eye the present streamed into a linear orchestra of lights and sounds that were the construct of the universe.
Gabriel didn’t like what he saw.
Harmony among the stars was gone and in its place, was contention. All of creation was strained and out of balance, so much so that he struggled to understand what had happened until one repeating phenomena made itself known to him. Mankind was close to annihilation because the Genesis was lost.
He drifted back down to the world of men. When he could focus his human eyes again yellow rays of the sun were streaking across an orange horizon. Slowly he stood up and looked around the sparsely furnished apartment that he’d occupied for the last five years. Time was a concept that didn’t apply to the Divine and he had to take a moment to discern how much of it had passed. His eyes fell on a digital clock and he was relieved to find it had been hours, not days. He turned back to the human world outside. People were waking and cars started flooding the streets as the sky turned a beautiful blue. They couldn’t sense the ripples of discord that disrupted all of time and space.
Gabriel loved the world of man even though he could never truly be part of it. At times humanity broke his heart and angered him, but their goodness made him proud. He wanted to protect them and see them live long enough to live up to the Divine potential inside them. If the Genesis had been awakened that meant that a judgment had been called forth and mankind’s fate would rest with her. She was lost and Gabriel was worried about what that meant. He needed to know who the Genesis was and what had happened to her.
There was one person he was sure could explain, someone that had lived since the early era of man. He closed his eyes to the old-world tile floor and white plaster walls of his apartment and opened them to a darkened room. The temperature was not as cold as his apartment, but still cool. Dim nighttime city skyline illuminated the room through rain streaked windows, but his eyes had more than enough light to see by. Elaborately decorated wood furniture, books, and a myriad of hanging plants filled the room. Honeysuckle perfumed the air, only the scent didn’t emanate from the plants. The smell gave him a sense of nostalgia from days spent fighting along-side the person that lived in the small house.
Slowly he maneuvered around the room careful not to disturb anything, and took a seat in a wingback chair. Folding his hands together, he stared at an uncomfortable looking couch and waited. It didn’t take long for his presence to be noticed. Soft squeaks followed by swishing noises announced a white-clad woman before she stepped into the room.
“I’ve been expectin’ you.” Her voice was a little above a whisper and was filled with reverence.
“Aurel, come sit with me,” he invited.
Carefully she shuffled into the room moving stiffly. Though she wore a long white nightgown reminiscent of something from the nineteenth century he could see dark marks and raised scabs on her arms neck and face. The skin around one of her violet eyes was swollen, preventing her from opening it all the way, and her long gray-brown hair looked as if it was missing chunks. He chose not to comment, but her injuries concerned him. Aurel was proud and would hide pain in his presence. If she allowed him to see the marks of a past battle that meant the battle she’d fought was fierce.
She clutched at the arm of the couch as she rounded it. “I can make us something hot to drink. Air’s a might chilly tonight and you…” she paused and looked him up and down, “ain’t dressed for travel, nor winter, nor decent folk.”
“Child, don’t presume to tell me what is indecent. If my lack of attire bothers you, remember I came to you informally in my human form. I could always impose the rules of my true first form.”
She immediately fell to her knees and bowed her head. “I ain’t meanin’ to disrespect you, sovereign prince. I simply meant that it is cold and you ain’t wearing nothing but britches.”
Gabriel couldn’t stop the laughter that bubbled up and rang out into the room. “No, you meant to school me on human sensibility. Something that I have never had a use for. But, if you are cold…” He waved a hand and several yellow glowing orbs appeared above them, lighting the room, and radiating a soft warmth. “Make yourself comfortable child. I believe you and I have a lot to discuss.”
Slowly she unfolded herself and carefully lowered her ailing body onto the couch with a heavy sigh. “You’ve come about the Genesis.”
“Then you know what’s been done to her?”
“No.” He shook his head. “The universe is in such chaos it cannot clearly speak to me.”
“Well, to be blunt, there was a fight and I’m not sure she’s alive.”
“It’s been told to me that she is lost, not dead. If she were dead, we wouldn’t be having this leisurely conversation.”
“Then there’s hope,” she said with a clear sigh of relief. “But the fact remains, I have no idea where she is.” Aurel bowed her head and folded her hands in her lap.
“And what is the human name of the Genesis?” he asked.
“Tristan, Tristan Elizabeth Glass.”
He thought about the name for several seconds then commented, “If the Genesis has awakened I assume the daughter has returned as well.”
She nodded slowly before adding, “Yes.”
He lifted his hands and held his fingers as if he grasped a glass in one and a more substantial container in the other. When he made motions to pour a glass tumbler and a metal flask appeared. The aroma of bitter apple filled the air as dark amber liquid filled the tumbler. “Drink this,” he said as he offered her the glass.
Aurel looked at him, slowly reached out and took it. “Thank you,” she mumbled, smiling lightly before taking a sip then put a hand to her mouth. “That will warm ya up.”
“One of its many benefits.” He summoned a second glass and filled it for himself before setting the large metal flask on the table in front of them. “Now, I believe you have a story to tell me.”
“Well.” She stopped, took another sip of her drink, and sighed. “I saw it years ago, written in the Divine. She was here, that the others were here. It was probably when she was born.”
“As was I informed of her birth,” he admitted.
“But, it ain’t your way to interfere with men until you are invited, I know. Me, I couldn’t sit and do nothin’. I knew what signs to look for and when they’d occur. So, when I felt the time was right I told the others.”
“Ah, the Prospects. They are an egotistical bunch.”
“I reckon they do less damage than the Regent. At least they fight for men, not to enslave them.”
“Aurel, do not placate me. What happened to the Genesis?”
“When we found her she was nearly beaten to death and dying. We didn’t get to her quick enough, though. The hospital had her and they’d inflicted their own brand of healin’.” She paused and he wondered if she was waiting for him to berate her for allowing the Genesis to be tortured. He said nothing and she went on. “I know I’m not the only seer, so I suggested that they bring in Audley Morgan to retrieve the girl. If she came out of her incitement the way he did, well I thought the strongest among us could handle her, considerin’ what we suspected she was. ‘Is’, I mean.”
He raised an eyebrow in alarm. “Bringing in the Morgan was dangerous.”
“Yessir it was, and I take full responsibility for it, but it was necessary.” She stuck her jaw out in a way that women do when they were ready to have a heated debate. “As it turns out it was a good decision. We had several fights not just with the Regent, but with Tristan. She was and is more powerful than any of us could have predicted and after she broke Jonas’s neck it was decided that The Morgan should be assigned to protect and train her.”
“Even so the Morgan cannot be controlled and there are others that would have been better candidates,” he pointed out. “His brother even.”
“There were, but in the end, it was a good decision. It’s hard to explain without seeing it, but the Genesis wasn’t afraid of the Morgan and he reacted to her mighty differently than the rest of us. The two seemed to rely on each other and grow stronger together. It wasn’t until it was too late that… that I realized why.”
“You cannot mean,” he interjected with clear surprise in his voice, “the Morgan is a Cleric?”
“It’s much worse than that,” Aurel looked down at her lap and shook her head. “He’s the Cleric of Destruction.”
The two of them were quiet for a long time and he felt Aurel’s tension. “Child, it is part of nature that there be a cycle of death and destruction. It is necessary.”
“I know, but I never intended to hand the Genesis over to the bringer of destruction.”
Gabriel resettled in his chair and strummed his fingers against its arm. “Is it possible that the Cleric is her companion?”
“Yeah,“ she nodded slowly, “and I’m sorry to say we are all a bunch of idiots. We knew all three would awaken at once, the Genesis, the Cleric of Destruction and the daughter. We should have been prepared for the eventuality that he would be the Cleric of the Genesis or the daughter, but the Genesis choosing the Morgan as her Cleric ain’t our problem. He protected her, he… loves her.” She looked down into her glass as she swirled its contents.
“That is as it should be.” They both fell into silence for a moment before he spoke again. “Continue with your story, child. I will not hold you or him in judgment,” he reassured.
She took a deep breath and relaxed her shoulders. “We had and have a rat in our kitchen. Because of that, we fought with the Regent and Caleb more than once and lost several lives to them.” She stopped long enough to wipe at both of her eyes. “But, then we also discovered the true power of the Genesis.”
“Absolute command,” he confirmed. “Not even I have been so gifted.”
Aurel’s eyes opened in surprise. “You knew?”
“Yes, but…” He raised a finger at her.” I am limited by Divine rule and couldn’t reveal that information until the Genesis herself revealed that ability.”
“Plus, it would have been more dangerous for our little Genesis if others knew. Having the power of command over everyone and everything, usurping free will could be very precarious for anyone involved. There would be too many that’d want to enslave or control her.” She was quiet for a moment. “She used that power to incite a lot of latents that would have died otherwise.”
“I’d expect no less from the Genesis. She is the first human born Aurora after all.” He smiled.
“Well, she ended up living with the Morgan so that he could protect and train her.”
Gabriel snorted and frowned. “The Prospects way of evolving, training as you call it, will not work on the Genesis.”
“I know that now, but maybe the Morgan knew it then. Anyway, the Council had to get involved and it ain’t ever pretty when they do. I’m sorry to say without… without Enoch my power is limited.” Her voice cracked and he could hear the sadness in it, but didn’t offer comfort. There was no comfort that could be offered to someone that had lost their companion, not when it was an Aurora and Cleric. “I’m ashamed of my own weakness,” she went on. “I could only do what I could do and I couldn’t stop them. I’m just not powerful enough and I didn’t want them to know how little power I have. So, because they were not getting the results and were afraid of their own prophecy, they set about casting on her to fully awaken her genetic memory.”
“Those arrogant fools,” he nearly shouted as he stood up. The orbs of light that floated around them burned bright white with his flux of power and a burst of heat made the room hot. Aurel bowed her head and tried to make herself small.
“I apologize,” she said in a language that had rarely been used since the dawn of time. “For that, and what happened after.”
“It was not my intention to scare you, child,” he replied in the same language as he regained control of his power and sat back down. The orbs around them dulled to a warm orange. “Continue with your story.”
“Well,” Aurel cleared her throat before she went on in English. “It was bad timin’ all ‘round because someone on the Council chose to invite the daughters entrope to the casting. Maybe it was their way of evolving her while unlocking her genetic memories.
“An Entrope could never have the power or Divine knowledge bestowed on a Cleric. Even if that Cleric has not been fully awakened. I do not understand this.”
“I was not privy to their plots. I didn’t understand myself.” She paused and took another sip of the drink she held. “All of it failed anyhow, as did their wish to contain the Morgan. They ended up unleashing him on themselves. He killed everyone that set about to cast on her and ended up facing the daughter. Only his power wasn’t sufficient even if he did stand his ground, but he did manage to weaken her enough to send her away when I could call in reinforcements. In the end, we pulled him from beneath a pile of rubble, and we still have not been able to find Tristan, traces of her, or even a body.”
“And the Morgan?” Gabriel asked.
“Without his Genesis, very dangerous.”
From there Gabriel could piece together the rest. “So, that explains the chaos of the universe.” They fell into silence as they both quietly sipped the apple liquor he’d poured for them. After thinking over all that she’d told, he finally said, “Do not despair child. She is not dead.”
“I wanted to suppose that she may be alive.” A slight upturn of her lips softened her face and he could see hope in her eyes.
“The Divine has stated she is lost, not dead and I do make the distinction. Right now, the universe has been thrown into chaos and unrest. The Cleric may have been awakened but he has not been unleashed. Only the Genesis can do that. The choice is hers, after all. However, that does give the daughter the advantage right now.” He twisted his hand and the glass he held disappeared. “I still cannot interfere. It is not my time yet. But,” he stood up and carefully stepped to the couch so that he stood over her. She looked up at him with wide eyes that made her look childlike despite the lines of age that adorned her face. “I can do this much.”
He summoned massive amounts of power as he reached out and lifted her face with two fingers. “Bless you, child.” He bent over and gently touched his lips to her forehead. First, he healed her then bestowed the remaining power he’d summoned on her. When he pulled away her skin was smooth and mark free.
Tears streamed down her cheeks and she whispered hoarsely, “Thank you.”
“Be careful. My blessing is not infinite so use it wisely and hopefully it will give the Genesis time to be found.” He stepped away from her and back to the window. He started to allow his physical form to dematerialize so that he could return to his home, but as he left he gave Aurel one final warning. “If the Genesis is caught in between she can be easily killed. If that happens the Cleric of Destruction will destroy all that has been created. Mankind will no longer exist, not just their lives but their souls. There won’t be anything left to bring before God.”
Tristan floated along in murky oblivion hearing, seeing, and feeling nothing. There was no light or sound, she wasn’t hot or cold, and there was no sensation of happiness or sadness. The darkness took away everything, including most of her memories. She knew her name and that there was a much larger world somewhere beyond where she existed, but that world no longer had any appeal. What she could remember, was full of pain and suffering so profound it threatened to destroy her soul. The oblivion took all of that away and that was why she wanted to stay.
The city lights of St. Augustine were swallowed by a rainy morning fog that promised there would be no sun that day. Audley didn’t pay attention to the lack of sun or his surroundings. He was aware it was just after dawn and he knew that the city around him was waking up, but his focus had become centered on one thing. The sparkling coppery figure that sat in the center of his rooftop patio had become the only thing that truly mattered.
He’d been so certain of Tristan’s death that it felt like the earth had shattered and took him with it. He’d spent days drinking himself into a stupor between fits of destruction that wrecked the building he owned. If this was her sitting in front of him in her Genesis form, if she was alive, then the earth beneath him felt as if it shattered again in a way that was founded in disbelief.
He wasn’t sure if she was a hallucination or not.
He’d been drunk enough to hallucinate and an alive Tristan was something he’d trade his own life for. He had to be certain the beautiful creature wasn’t his imagination. Carefully, he reached out. At the same time, she dipped her head and pressed it into his hand. Something wet that could only be described as fur met his skin proving that she was real.
It was Tristan, Tristan in her Genesis form.
Still astounded and yearning to wipe away any remaining doubts about illusions he moved forward and settled himself into a crouch next to her. Splaying his hand over her head, he ran it down her neck, marveling at the copper fur that glided underneath his palm. She was warm to the touch and there were no words to describe the softness of her coat. It was like someone spun fresh cotton and silk into velvet. As he marveled at the feel of her he had to reason that she was real, because he was certain any hallucinations he had of Tristan would be of her as her human self.
He rubbed his hand over her back then down her ribs, feeling not just the fur but the hard skin underneath. It wasn’t simply skin he was feeling. There were ridges as if thousands of tiny stone pebbles were interlocked together and soft fur grew out of them. He continued running his hand over her fascinated by what appeared to be protective armor. It was hard enough to be resistant to damage but fluid enough to move when she moved, even expanding with her breaths. Her coat was decorated with a long mane that started from the back of her head, moved down her back and ended in a long tail that was covered in fur so long it resembled hair. She didn’t look like any animal he’d ever encountered before but somehow managed to be a strange mix of them all. He could see a cat’s grace in her hind haunches. Stallion-like muscles rippled with her movements promising that she’d not only be fast but strong as well.
She flinched away from him when he got too close to her underbelly and he pulled his hand back. “Sorry,” he said without thinking and waited to see if she’d offer more reaction to him. She didn’t until he raised two fingers to touch her again. She twitched an ear as he traced over her long snout and up her nose to her wide forehead. There was a loud huff that seemed to belay impatience and he dropped his hand but continued his inspection. He stared deep into her eyes, looking for some reflection of something familiar in them. The emerald green irises were cut with diamond shaped pupils and had a spark of intelligence, but it wasn’t the Tristan he knew. There was still a part of Tristan that was missing.
Words of the dark-haired woman he’d fought echoed in his mind. “She’s stuck. Whatever you and your Prospects did, have trapped her.” The words rang of painful truth. Tristan was caught in between being human and something else, or she’d simply lost part of her herself.
“Tristan?” he asked knowing there’d be no answer. He needed to talk to her even though the part of her that would and could respond was missing.
Rain started to shower them in cold water. “We should go inside and get warm and dry,” he said before placing his hands on his knees and pushing himself up. Tristan stretched her lanky legs, spread her paws out in front of her, arched her back then stood. She padded off toward the stairs in front of them swishing her tail behind her. He stood back and watched, searching for the woman he longed for. He couldn’t see any part of Tristan’s human soul or body in the Genesis form and he wondered if the Tristan he knew was truly gone.
A spectrum of profound emotions overwhelmed him before they culminated and exploded into something he could deal with, anger. He wanted to kill them all, the Prospects, the Regent, his brother, even the great and powerful Holbert witch, and he’d burn the world to ashes to do it. Whatever stirred him awoke to a raging roar. It was so powerful that it burned through him, igniting a primal lust that he barely controlled. Something surged and he felt a pulse surge forth. The building he stood on shook. He could feel all things that existed in his vicinity and it all cowered at the new strength that he’d found. The rain, the sky, living creatures, everything down to the tiniest molecule trembled at his wrath. It was intoxicating.
Soft fur again pushed into his hand and he felt a weight press along the length of his body up to his stomach. He looked down into Tristan’s face, a face that seemed to be questioning him. The intensity to kill and destroy was lost to hope, because in her face, in her eyes he could see a small glimpse of the woman he’d thought he lost. He couldn’t say what she was for certain, but he did know that Tristan, in part, stood beside him.
She didn’t stay next to him long but headed toward the stairs that led back to his house. The more he looked and watched her, the more he saw what he’d missed before. Underneath the burning coppery coat, her slender legs and dangerous looking paws, muscular body and long neck, there was something familiar about her. If he looked hard enough he could see Tristan’s human elegance. She may be an incomplete Genesis, but a tiny portion of what made her human was still there. She did recognize him after all, and she’d miraculously returned to him. He was still angry at what he’d lost of her, mostly at himself, but he had hope. The human Tristan was still there inside the Genesis, he just needed to reawaken her. He wondered if he actually could.