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Vestige Novel Chapter 2 (Reworked and Edited): Rena’s POV

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Chapter Two: Rena’s POV

How could this have happened? I watched still as stone as Amos and Constantine reach out and catch Jamie before she hit the ground. She had fainted. Much worse than that, she knew about the Dark Ones now. A dangerous force in the world that Vanessa never wanted her to know the existence of. What was Jamie doing in the woods at this time of night? My mind whirled as I ran my hands through my long dark locks.

            I had met her a few times before when I went to visit my old friend, Vanessa. Jamie was Vanessa’s seventeen-year-old adoptive daughter. As hard as this was going to be for the both of them, and more so for Vanessa, Jamie knew about them now, and something had to be done about it.

Amos and Constantine looked up at me with the same matching expressions on their faces of concern and shock. Neither of them had ever seen a human be so bold as to attack a Dark One without fear. I had never known humans were strong enough to actually take one down without dying in the process.

Gazing down at her now, a silent sigh of disappointment slipped between my lips. Jamie was still out cold. Her dark golden hair and her life drained face was covered in beads of sweat, matting strands of hair to her forehead.

“Is she alright?” I finally asked them, not bothering to check myself. Their guesses were as good as my own.

They placed her down carefully on the ground and looked her over. Amos put two of his fingers to the main vein on the throat of her neck to check her pulse. “She is breathing; unconscious, yet breathing. She will live to see another day.” He examined, his Spaniard accent clear in his voice. He met my gaze with worrisome eyes. “What should we do now with the girl? She has seen too much for human eyes.”

I knew what he meant.

Constantine’s eyes rounded and bulged at the same time we heard his sharp intake of breath.

“What is it Constantine?” Amos and I asked in unisons, stepping closer to him.

“Her arm! Look at the girl’s arm! Tell me it isn’t what I think it is.”

At my son Constantine’s request, I walked over and bent down hovering over Jamie like Amos and Constantine were now doing. He pointed a shaking finger to the nape between her upper and lower right arm. “There,” he pointed.

We followed his gaze and direction with our eyes. Amos positioned his flashlight on the section of her arm, so we could see it better under the fluorescent light. When the light shone over the area, we saw what Constantine meant. In the nape between her upper and lower arm were three distinct needle marks. They were surrounded by bruises and her veins were a vibrant violet color at the moment in hand.

It was clearly obvious to Amos, Constantine, and I what the marks meant. We all stood back up.

“The girl has been marked. She probably fainted from the pain of the change,” Amos shook his head. “She’s so young. They always are.” His gaze fell on her. “The world will never be the same for her again.”

Constantine nodded in agreement. “Because she is going through the change that must be why she had the strength to take down that Dark One. Strange, but intriguing. However, even those going through the change shouldn’t be able to be as strong as she was.”

It made complete sense if one looked at it that way. Still a newly changed Immortali shouldn’t have the knowledge it would require to defeat a Dark One or kill it, let alone one who’s still going through the change.

Amos yawned. The dark lines under his eyes were evidence of his exhaustion. We had been tracking the Dark One for days and chasing him for hours. Ours wards were waiting for us to return home.

“What should we do with her now? We can’t just leave her here and have humans find her. We would be risking exposure.” Amos was right. We couldn’t just leave her here.

I thought it over briefly though I already knew the answer. I knew the answer the second I realized that the girl was Jamie. “We will take the girl to her adoptive parent’s house and see where to go from there. Her house isn’t far from here. A few miles at best.”

Confusion was written in the furrowing of their brows and the stillness of their movements.

“You know this girl and her adoptive parents?” Amos wondered.

I nodded my head in her direction. “Yes, I do. Her name is Kathleen James McKenna, though she prefers to be called Jamie. Her adoptive parents are Mark and Vanessa McKenna of Trenton, New Jersey. They adopted her two years ago.”

Understanding flashed over their features the moment I said Vanessa’s name because they knew Vanessa as well.

Amos kneeled down and slid his hands under Jamie, lifting her off the ground, and put her into his arms without waking her up. She was still out cold.

Constantine’s eyes flickered down to the unconscious Dark One and up to me. “What should we do with him then?”

This was a job they could do without me for tonight at least. My current job was to make sure Vanessa knew what happened to her daughter. This is going to break her heart, I think sadly, but it has to be done. I held out my arms extended. “Give her to me,” I told Amos. He placed her into my arms, and I held her tight against my chest, so she wouldn’t fall. “I’m taking her to Vanessa. I’ll call you when I’m going to return. You two can deal with the Dark One without me for tonight. This is much more important than him.”

Neither of them contested my words.

Amos put his hand on my shoulder gently. “Be careful and return back safely to me, Renata,” he whispered. He worried too much. He knew that I was more than capable of taking care of myself.

Without another word to them, I carried Jamie back to her car on the side of the road. I found it easily in the night, and I put her securely in the backseat. I shut the door silently without waking her. Looking around, I see no one in sight for miles. Thinking over what I should tell Vanessa, I got into the driver’s seat, shutting the door, and I turned the key in the ignition. As the car hummed to life, I drove off on a new mission. A mission that I didn’t want to do, but I knew I had no choice.

Vestige Novel (ReWorked and ReWritten): Chapter 1 Jamie’s POV

Chapter One: Jamie’s POV

    “Not again! I can’t be late again!” Pressing my foot further down on the gas pedal, I knew that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week.

     It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.

    She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.

    As I drove out my frustrations, I began to notice the headache forming like a storm could in my mind wasn’t helping much either; not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headaches have gotten worse in the passed four days since I first noticed them coming and going. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?

    With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. I wiped at my forehead and removed the beads of sweat building before I glanced down at the heat settings and saw that it was off. I inhaled a small gust of air and had a hard time breathing without finding myself wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.

    No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road as I powered through it. Hardly anyone took this route anymore because the highway was faster, and also due to the fact that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.

    The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. A few houses popped up here and there; otherwise, it was abandoned. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.

    Coughing hard, I closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes shot open, I was blinded by a big flash of fluorescent white light that shone through the forest off to my right. The car shook slightly beneath me; enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.

    Startled, I panicked and found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while I shielded my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain as it pulsated against my skull. Barely seeing around my arm, I saw the light slowly faded away through the overgrown trees after a few seconds.

    Removing my arm from my face, I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden shift in light and my ragged breathing made each wheeze hurt worse.

    “What the heck was that?” I asked myself, still in shock.

    When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable, I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night vigilantIy, I headed into the forest with quiet steps weary that I was alone. It was too silent for a location where many animals inhabited. The forest wasn’t just silent, but it was absolutely creepy. My heart pounded against my chest, telling me to get out of there. Something about the forest felt wrong, unnatural. The pit of my stomach twisted into knots and dropped into an abyss of uneasiness.

    After minutes of walking, I reached the exact point where the light had originated. I leaned against a tree trunk to steady myself as my body begun to sway and my mind swarmed, losing balance. Unsuccessfully, I tried to shake the headache and the vertigo away.

    The tournament must’ve taken a lot out of me.

    The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present as I attempted to catch my breath.

    The sudden sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved made my head shot up alarmed. I listened closer to the noises in complete stillness. The noises were getting closer to where I stood shaking with fear. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.

    Someone or something was running fast in my direction.

    “Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.

    No one answered back.

    The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was coming became more persistent and grew louder.

    Another thought dropped into my mind. One thought I should’ve thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the flash of light?

    A thought I should’ve had much sooner, because now it was too late to run. I could hear them too close now. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, let my fear be the death of me. My instincts and teachings consumed the fear building inside of me like a typhoon as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves with shaky breaths, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance as I had done many times before during tournaments. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap, my every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.

    Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to tremble. I could see small pebbles and rocks and little sticks quaking on the grass and in the dirt because of some force. Squinting, trying to narrow my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him, three figures with flashlights were pursuing him.

    As he got closer to me, one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Don’t let him touch you! Run now!” She yelled breathlessly.

    I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should’ve listened but I was too stubborn and it was too late. Running wasn’t an option now. The unsettling feeling deep inside of my soul said that this man they were pursuing was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away as best as I could, I got back into a defensive battle stance.

    He came into complete view and I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth like a feral animal. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard, yet not scaring me enough to get me out of my stance. I didn’t move an inch. I was too afraid to. He came charging at me at full speed with his arms outstretched and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move to defend myself. His attack blew the wind right out of my body.

    He was so fast that I barely saw his attack.

A few labored breaths later, I gazed him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out immediately. Strange dark red rings around the irises of his clearly amber eyes caught my curiosity. It was weirder than his pale skin, drained of most color.

    Another menacing growl, in my face this time, rippled through his mouth as he struggled with me and he attempted to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. I used all the body strength that I could muster to wrap my legs around his and disabled him from getting to his feet. Doing that only frustrated him more.

    The dark rings around his eyes grew larger and slowly overtook the amber parts remaining, consuming them completely. My mouth dropped open. No way was is that possible! It can’t be real! Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.

    Laying my rounded eyes on him, reality cracked inside of me at the reality of the existence of other worldly creatures. I was still in shock, yet I knew that my eyes weren’t deceiving me. This was really happening. He was real.

    The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby. I glanced at them briefly, but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard in that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could turn back to him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face like a snake ready to strike.

    Trembling, I shut my eyes tight over my eyelids and waited for the death I knew was coming for me.

    With little effort, he got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air. The impact of colliding with a tree trunk ended my flight. The fall and plop on the hard ground of dewy grass was agonizing. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning to brew inside of me. My glassy eyes of tears blinded my sight. I blinked my eyelids rapidly in order to see through the haze of tears.

    Only a few seconds since I was immobilized had passed, still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three individuals with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man with an intense unblinking stare, I stood back up, leaning against a tree for support, and shook my head. I set my view on the scene playing out before me when the dizziness begun to fade.

    He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me at this moment It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to outweigh the warring terror in my body. Releasing my jagged breath, I slowly drifted away from the tree and over toward him without making any sounds. In close proximity to him, I started running at him now with my arms outstretched. Clashing with him, I used the full force of my body to take him down. It was like hitting an immoveable object ,but somehow I managed to get him off his feet.

    We fell onto the ground hard with a loud plap. My attack had caught him completely off guard. He immediately tried to untangle me with his hands. Unlike before, it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. Whether he was a delusion or real didn’t matter to me in this moment. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck, then I squeezed hard. I couldn’t let him get away from here and hurt anyone else.

    I squeezed and squeezed until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. His groans made my skin crawl. He wiggled around trying to break free of the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth chomped were mere inches from my face, with only my arm keeping him from turning in my direction and biting me.

    After a few minutes of struggling, his body finally became completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. Exhausted as he entered submission, my heart rate slowed and sweat clung onto my forehead. I released my hold and dropped him to the ground. Staring down at him, I  stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my now tangled dark golden blonde hair. The brain splitting headache and dizziness rushed back into me. It was a thousand times worse than before.

    Now the pain was almost intolerable.

    The three formerly pursuing the man stared at me with their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets. Then they dropped their gazes down to the unconscious man–well I wasn’t sure what he was, but I knew he most certainly wasn’t human.

    The wheezing cut at my throat, making it harder for me to breathe right. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking like they were going to shatter to bits. They were much worse than growing pains. An agony close to how death would feel, I imagined.

    The woman stepped forward, so I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. Her face was familiar to me. That long curly black hair, those yellowish-green eyes, and her beige skin set tiny alarms off in my mind. I stood as still as stone, taken aback a moment. She was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature?

    “Rena? Is that you?” My voice sounded hoarse as I called out to her.

    She didn’t reply back to me. All she did was watch me. Her lips parted, yet nothing slipped from in between.

    Just as I got ready to ask her again ,I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.

    She took a slow step forward, moving out of her stone state. Recognition flying through her.

    “Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started.

    Her voice cut out and disappeared into the wind as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two with flashlights running to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.

My First Quote from Path of Shadows 2: HIDDEN IN SHADOWS

My gaze drifts over to Sarah, who’s sleeping across from me in her bunk bed. Brazael’s loud ranting doesn’t seem to wake her.

“Don’t worry about talking quietly,” Brazael says and nods over to Sarah. “She won’t be waking anytime soon.”

In confusion, I gaze back at where Sarah is sleeping. The pastel blue, cotton blankets are pulled up to her shoulders. Her face is turned away from me, so all I can see is her long, black braided hair from where I sit. There’s no movement from under the sheets. I can’t tell if she’s breathing or not.

“What did you do to her?” My eyes burn with bright anger as I meet his expectant gaze. I hold his stare momentarily before I focus on his mouth to break our gaze.

From his back pocket, he produces a butcher knife. Crimson red blood is matted over top of the gleaming silver blade. My mouth hangs open slightly as I recognize the knife. Turning around on the bed, I lift up my pillow. The knife I’d taken from the kitchen and placed under my pillow earlier is gone. Brazael has it in his hand.

Facing him now, I grab at my covers, clawing them until my hands ball into fists. I want to kill him, strip the life right out of his body, but I resist the powerful urge to do so. If I kill him, I’ll surely be exposing myself for who I really am. My mission will be ruined.

PATH OF SHADOWS Quote of the Day

“There’s a war coming, Diana. I can’t say there are many Angels left on Earth. We’ll need all of ones we can find.”

Her eyes round slightly as she realizes what I’m suggesting. “No. I’m not an Angel. This isn’t my fight.”

“Yes, it is,” I correct her. “You’re half-angel. Whether you like it or not, you were born into this war. The demons will come after you whether you fight on our side or not. At the very least, you need to be able to protect yourself. Let me train you.”

I’m right. She can see this much as she bites her lower lip. “Okay,” she agrees. “I accept your offer, but I’m not promising anything. What you’re asking me to do I have to think about.”

“That’s all that I ask of you.” I move away from her and return to my former position by the dryer. “Consider what I’ve said.”

Chapter 4 of PATH OF SHADOWS

Chapter Four: Emma (Emma’s Point of View)

She’s alright. She has to be alright, I think repeatedly, praying these words are true. Diana’s strong. She got away from those monsters. If she got away from them than why isn’t she here? I wonder, but I ignore it and keep chanting. She’s alright. She has to be alright.

My heavy eyelids beg to be shut, and my body wants to rest, but I refuse to let it. I haven’t slept a wink all night. It’s amazing how my fear the demons will return out rules my exhaustion. The laundromat, our makeshift home for the night, is silent. The only noise is the buzzing I hear from the light bulbs. I sit on the drafty ground in a small room against a washer with Diana’s sword gripped tight in my hands. The sword shakes along with my trembling hands.

Diana, where are you? I wonder.

I need her here. I need her to be safe. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She has taken care of and protected me for months. She’s all the family I have left in this world.

Waiting for her, I think of the first time I met her almost two years ago in South Dakota.

I run and don’t look back. My family’s bloody screams echo through the woods from tree to tree and in the wind. Hot tears stream down my cold cheeks and my breath is visible in the cold weather. I keep running, afraid the demons will come after me next. Miles away when the bright sun dawns I force myself to stop running. I’m safe in the daylight hours from the night creatures.

Falling to my knees in the dirt, I cry. I weep for my mother, for my father, for my older cousin Cynthia, and my little sister Candice. They’re dead. Their lives stripped from them in a flash of violence. I’m alone.

Three days of solitude follow. I walk by day in search of people and food. By night, I hide in trees or wherever I can to keep out of sight. On the third day, I come across a white two story house in the midst of the forest. There are no lights on or signs of life inside. It’s dark and I must hide. I walk up the three wooden stairs, onto the porch, and try to open the door. It’s locked, so I walk over to the window and find it’s unlocked. I crawl inside as quietly as possible and make my way to the kitchen.

I find the kitchen and walk quickly over to the fridge when I spot it. I open it and I’m thankful when I see its stock full of food and water. My stomach growls. I pull out a big piece of deer meat and shut the fridge door as I bite it.

The lights in the kitchen flip on. I jump back and notice there’s a girl my age standing in the doorway with a wooden bat held tightly in her hand. Scared, I drop the meat onto the counter and back up towards the door I entered.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break in and steal your food,” I babble to her. My mind swirls and my heart drums on. I feel awful for violating her home, but I don’t think I had any other choice. “I thought no one lived here. I was hungry. I haven’t eaten anything in four days. I’m sorry. I’ll leave now.”

The girl gazes at me for the longest time. She sits her bat on the ground beside her and takes two steps towards me. I don’t know whether I should run or continue apologizing, so I stay frozen.

“You can stay and eat if you want,” she offers and sits at the circular table beside the counter.

I pick the meat back off the counter cautiously and join her at the table.

“Thank you,” I say in-between bites.

She watches me plow down the meat and offers me more when I’m finished. We have something in common. We’re both alone.

From that day on, I never left. She had saved my life by offering a simple courtesy.

The bell ringing above the Laundromat door, signals that someone has entered, pulls me out of the past and back into the present. I get up off the ground and tiptoe over to the door, praying its Diana.

The backroom door to the room I’m in opens before I can reach it. A man enters the room and faces me. I swing the sword at him impulsively. He’s stronger and faster than me. He reacts quickly and knocks the sword out of my hands before it can touch him. I try to recoil from him, but he wraps his arms around mine and restrains me.

“Calm down,” I hear him say.

“Let me go,” I beg and try to wiggle free.

Diana walks into the room and smiles at me.

“Diana!” I say and he releases me. I run to Diana and hug her tightly. My fears are immediately dissolved by her presence. She’s safe. She’s alright.

“Emma, are you okay? I tried to get here as fast as I could,” she tells me and looks me over for any injuries.

“I’m fine. I was worried something had happened to you. What happened after I ran?” I ask her. I glance at the guy watching us. “Who’s he?”

Diana glances at him and answers me. “It’s a long, complicated story.”

Chapter 2 of Path of Shadows

Chapter Two: Sixteen (Diana’s Point of View)

The word echoes in my head as I turn and run once more. The demon doesn’t pursue me. He stands in the same place I left him and watches me. Nephilim, a word I haven’t heard in years. The memory of my mother calling me a Nephilim as a child comes to the forefront of my mind. My mother’s dark brown eyes gaze down at me as I play with the doll she’d made me before my birth. She smiles sadly and lifts me up into her arms.

“You are special, Diana,” she says to me in a tone that borders happiness and concern. “Diana, my Nephilim.”

The memory is one I don’t want to remember, so I shake it away and focus on the here and now. I find myself passing between two tall brown brick buildings whose paint is chipping. There’s a large metal trash bin at the end of the alley that’s overloaded with debris and trash. I come to a complete stop when I realize I’ve made a wrong turn.

“A dead end,” I say aloud.

There’s nowhere for me to go now. The only way out of the alley is the way I came in. I know I can’t go back that way because the demons will be waiting for me if I do. Every door to both buildings are locked as I try to open them. I look around spinning and try to find another means to escape, but there’s none. I stand in the alley anticipating my death, defeated.

Looking at the only way out, I see the darker than dark shadows slither across the ground. I take a few steps back as if it makes a difference. They encircle me and begin to take shape. Six of them, flesh and blood, manifest out of the night around me. I’m defenseless against so many. Their towering posture, curious stares, and demented smiles tell me they know they have me right where they want me.

I don’t shed any tears, yet I’m terrified. My fate is sealed. Death has come for me in the form of demons. Is this how I end? I wonder as I face them.

“What do we have here?” The blonde one facing me says and takes in my entire being with his eyes.

“A Nephilim. Half-angel and half-human. A rare breed,” the one beside him says.

The others are too captivated by my glowing skin and the odd symbols to add to the discussion.

“What should we do with her?” The blonde one pulls out a knife with a black blade from his back pocket and strokes the blade with the tips of his fingers as he paralyzes me with his piercing gaze.

The other one shrugs his shoulders. “She’s a Nephilim. We must take her to the Master. That’s the law,” he replies and takes a long pause before he speaks again. This time in a deeper voice. “We don’t have to bring her to him alive.”

The blonde one smiles so wide I can see his white teeth.

I want to run. I want to scream. Anything that’ll get me further from them. I need to fight, but I can’t manage to move as I’m lost in his eyes. The only movement I can do is ball my hands into fists and flex them.

They are all in agreement about what to do with me. They close in on me. The blonde one touches my arm. A cold fire spreads where he touches me. Repulsed, I try to shake his touch off, yet I’m immobile.

“This will hurt a lot,” he says. There’s sadistic undertone in his promise as he pulls his knife back to cause me untold pain.

I fight to shut my eyes and I can’t.

“Hey!” Someone yells from the entrance to the alleyway.

They look to where the voice originated. The blonde one looks away from me and breaks his hold over me. I can blink and follow their stares, but I’m too fear stricken to run.

A tall man with dark brown eyes, short untidy black hair, and a slender muscular build stands at the entrance to the alleyway with his hands behind his back. There’s no distinct expression of fear on his face as he skims the group of demons around me. He takes a step closer to us as he speaks.

“Leave the girl alone.”

The demons hiss at him when his hands fall to his side and he shows them the shiny, silver sword with a gold hilt in his right hand.

“Angel,” the blonde demon growls.

The tension building between the demons and him fills the air around me. It’s filled with a deep hatred. The demons ignore me now and focus all of their attention on him like I’m invisible to them.

“I guess the girl wasn’t alone,” the other demon says to the blonde one.

The guy walks towards them now. He looks calm and collected as he strides over to them. The demons run towards him with their weapons out. All of their hate and desire to kill is aimed at him.

He’s going to get himself killed, I think as I watch the demons go at the stranger.

He doesn’t run as they reach him. Instead of cowering or bowing out he raises his sword and attacks them as they reach him. The fierce will and warrior-like strength in his movements as he fights leaves me watching with a growing fascination. One by one he overpowers the demons and defeats them. There’s no hesitation in his attacks.

Minutes later, he rushes over to me after destroying the demons. He isn’t fazed by the glow emitting from my body. He wraps his hand around my arm and pulls me along with him down the alley.

“Now would be a good time for you to start running,” he tells me and releases his hold.

We run as fast as possible down and out of the alley. I look back and notice we’re still being followed by demons. Not the demons from the alley, but others. He leads me down a few blocks and tries to find a building that’s unlocked or unoccupied. No such luck. We cross another street with only one working lamp light.

The goose bumps all over my skin reminds me that we’re still being pursued.

He runs up to a glass door to a five story building that looks like it could’ve been a newspaper business back in the day. He tries to open the door, but we discover it’s locked. I look behind me and see the shifting shadows at the end of the street slowly inching closer.

“They’re coming,” I say to him. My voice quivers and breaks.

“Forget this,” I hear him say as he kicks at the glass door once. The glass cracks and shatters into a million tiny pieces. The shards fall onto the ground sounding like a waterfall. “Come on,” he says and pulls me into the building by the arm.

My legs grow tired as I run stair by stair up three levels on his heels. Another setback awaits us as we get to the door. It’s locked. He takes a few steps back and rams his body forward at the door. It collapses and we walk over it. We walk around the third floor. Cubicles, offices, and conference rooms are all on the third floor.

“This way.” He leads me into an abandoned office.

Inside the office, he shuts the door and takes me behind the desk. He looks out of the window at the street searching for the demons. I don’t understand why he helped me escape, or why he is protecting me now.

“Who are you?”

He turns to face me and puts a finger to his mouth shushing me.

I shut my mouth and stay still as he places his hands over my collarbone. His eyes shut close and he whispers something in a language I don’t know over and over again. I don’t know what he’s doing until I look down and see the glowing fade until it disappears. The black symbols fade away, but not into nothing. I feel them sink into my skin and attach to my bones. They become etched into my bones.

The pain is agonizing as they burn into my bones like a tattoo. I scream, but he covers my mouth with his hand tight. I try to ignore the pain, but I can’t. He wraps his arms tight around my upper body as I wither in pain. It’s the only thing he can do to keep me from convulsing, or ripping out my hair.

Outside of the door, we hear footsteps and see the shadows of the demons walking around from under the doorway. We crouch down, with his hand still covering my mouth, and hide behind the desk.

“They aren’t here,” one of the demons say. “The signal has disappeared. The angel must’ve clouded her signal. They can’t be tracked now.”

A long moment of silence passes before another demon speaks. “All we can do now is go tell Beelzebub that we saw them and see what she has to say.”

Silence comes from outside of the office. The goose bumps go away. I no longer feel cold or a sense of danger.

They’re gone, I think with relief.

He stands and removes his hand from my mouth. I stand and face him still with a burning pain in my chest like I had inhaled smoke from a fire. My throat burns with a dry sensation. He puts his sword into its sheath at his waist and turns to face me.

“What did you do to me?”

“I shielded your beacon,” he answers, and adds more to his explanation when he sees my confusion. “I carved a protection into your bones to prevent the demons from tracking you.”

The office begins to sway around me. I’m spinning and spinning, yet I’m standing completely still. I hold onto the desk for support to keep from falling. My legs quiver as they try to stay in place without giving out.

“I don’t feel so good,” I say, dizzy.

He doesn’t look surprised as I collapse to the ground on my back. I look up at him through hazy eyes. I feel light-headed as I fight to keep my eyelids open against the heaviness trying to close them.

“Happy sixteenth birthday,” I hear him say before I pass out from the pain.

 

Chapter 1 of My novel: Path of Shadows, a young adult novel

This is the first chapter of my twenty-six chaptered novel. I will write more on this later, but here is the beginning. Read it and let me know what you think, what thoughts or questions or concerns come to your mind:

 

Chapter One: Nephilim (Diana’s Point of View)

Emma glances at me with uncertainty in her hazel eyes.

“I don’t think we’ll find anything here, Diana,” she whispers low and sounds defeated.

As we lay on the brown grass hill waiting, I know she’s probably right. We’ve been lying on our stomachs here for almost three hours skimming the woods with our eyes. I pray a bird will fly overhead or a white-tailed deer will scurry its way through the brush. Her stomach growls. Her hunger is apparent, but her fear of the night overrides her survival instinct.

“We can’t leave yet. I haven’t caught anything. You need to eat,” I reply, yet I know we only have so much time before the monsters come out to prey on humans like us.

In Kamsa’s territory we didn’t have to worry about the demons finding us out at night because our home was in the woods. Here, in Beelzebub’s territory, the monsters are everywhere when the sunsets. If we don’t catch something soon, we’ll have to leave hungry with night creeping up on us. She won’t be angry with me for our leaving, but I can’t go just yet. It’s my job to take care of her now, so we must stay.

“Ten more minutes,” I promise her. “If we don’t get anything by then we’ll leave.”

Her golden blonde hair sways, barely brushing against her shoulders as she shakes her head. “Fine. Ten minutes,” she agrees and gazes at the sun, which is slowly descending.

The minutes fly by and before I know it, it’s time to go.

Pulling herself to her feet, Emma wipes off her gray pants. She never stops glancing in the direction of the sun. The sky turns a purplish-orange hue as the sun makes its way over the horizon of the hills. A reminder that time is running out. She reaches down to grab my hand and stops when tree branches moving and cracking alarms her.

I pull her down to the ground. We skim the woods from our summit to find the source of the noises.

“Over there, Diana,” Emma points to a tree dead in front of us a few yards away.

Following her direction, I see the tree limbs shiver and notice a fat little figure with black, brown, and orange fur gripping a nut in his dark tiny hands. A fox squirrel. Emma smiles at me and hands me the bow and arrow laying on the ground beside her. Taking it, I place the thin arrow into the centerfold of the bow and adjust my fingers on them with the gentlest hold.

The wind blows slightly and the chilly breeze whistles passed us. Silence follows as I inhale a deep breath. I hold it, and sit up until I’m on my knees positioning the arrow at my target. My right hand pulls the arrow and string back. I release both of them and the arrow disappears from my grasp. It soars through the air, the trees, and hits its target.

A second later, I see the squirrel drop from the branch and plop onto the ground.

There’s no time to waste now. We come out of our hiding place and run down the hill in leaps to where our dinner awaits us motionless, breathless. Months of hunting had put us in sync with each other. Emma removes her backpack and unzips it without saying anything. Crouching down, I scoop the little thing up with my hands and place him inside the backpack lined with old newspaper from the times before Lucifer’s reign of Earth.

Sorry, I think to the dead squirrel, but we have to eat.

“It’ll take us a while to get back into town. We have to leave now if we’re going to get there before sunset,” Emma tells me and hands me the backpack.

We get moving, speed walking through the stretch of trees with barely any leaves, across dried up grass, and over the creaky bridge that’ll lead us into town. I remove the hair tie from my hair and let my long chocolate brown hair fall down in loose waves because it’s getting colder as the sky darkens. I look over at Emma and see her pull her sweater shut tight. I make a mental note to find her a jacket as soon as possible.

The luminescence from the moon lights our way into town. The streets are vacant of all life. It’s already dark and past curfew. Silence echoes from every tall and small building. I don’t have to look at Emma to know she’s afraid because I am too. An unsettling feeling crawls in my skin that we won’t make it back to our temporary home in time. We have a few blocks to go before we’re safe.

We have to make it, I tell myself assuring. I can’t let anything happen to Emma. We’ll make it.

A cold, bone chilling sense makes the hair on my arms stand on end. I turn my head slightly, so I can see behind me. The street looks the same, yet I know it’s not. Shadows begin shifting in the darkness. My pulse quickens. Dark wispy shadows are following us a few yards away. I look forward now alert. Emma doesn’t notice my sudden change in mood.

We turn the corner and I see her start to look behind us.

“Don’t look back,” I whisper to her.

She keeps looking forward and does her best to remain calm. Her wide eyes, fidgeting hands, and forced breaths betray the calm demeanor she’s trying to maintain. I know this situation brings up bad memories for her, yet I can’t stop it.

I take another side glance behind me. The shadow is still following us, but it’s not alone. Right behind it are more shifting shadows. They move in unison with the other. More demons, I realize.

Slipping the backpack off my shoulders, I hand it to Emma. She slips the backpack on and grips tight onto the straps. She doesn’t glance at me. Nonchalantly, I rest my trembling hand on the hunting knife at my waist and flip open the strap holding it there. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The shadows are getting closer.

“Run!” I yell to Emma.

She bolts off down the street without looking back. At an intersection, she turns the corner onto another street and disappears from my view. She’s safe, I reassure myself. She’s safe.

Turning around, I see I’m not alone. A demon stands before me. His pure black eyes glare down at me. My breath catches as our eyes meet. My heart plummets into the deep abyss in my chest. I snap out of the shock and try to pull my knife out of its sheath. Before I can react, his cold pale hands reach out and push me hard. My feet leave the ground and I’m flung into the wall of a neighboring building. The impact causes an implosion of pain in my right shoulder.

He comes running at me. I move to the left out of his way, right before he touches me, and run. Exerting all my leg muscles I run down the street. I know he’s following me, so I don’t glance back to see where he’s at.

Arms wrap around my waist like a snake squeezing the life out of its prey. He uses all of his body weight to knock me down onto the ground. I hit the pavement and he flips me around, so I’m facing him.

“You shouldn’t have been outside past curfew,” the demon tells me in his dark, alluring voice. “What will I do with you now?” He sighs, yet I think he already knows.

We struggle as I try to break free of him. He laughs like it’s a game. His fingers wrap around my neck to stop my oxygen supply. I place my hands on the muscles of his left arm, lift the midsection of my body, and use all my strength to push him to the left. We roll over and now I’m on top of him. I reach for my knife and wrap my fingers tight around the hilt as I pull it out. There’s no time to waste. I drive the blade downwards into his heart as hard as I can manage. It’s the only place I can think to hurt him.

There is a crack, pop noise as it goes in. His eyes round with disbelief and his lips part open. A second later his body goes limp and relaxes. He doesn’t move anymore. I killed him and to stop my own death.

Relief fills me, but quickly fades as another feeling consumes me. An almost euphoric warmth rushes threw my body from head to toe. I hop off him and look down at myself. My skin begins to radiate a golden glow.

All across my collarbone, shoulders, and arms a collection of odd black symbols appears. I pull at my blue blouse and stare down at the symbols. I don’t know what to make of them as they continue to appear on my skin. I’ve seen these symbols before as a child, yet I can’t remember where and when. Seeing them on my flesh scares me.

Out of a thick black mist a figure forms near me and a demon manifests out of it. He watches me with a mixture of fascination and disgust. His head tilts slightly to the side as a sinister smile forms on his mouth.

“Nephilim,” he exhales surprisingly.