Dimitrius is back from the dead. Which is all well and good, aside from the fact that he has to save the mythical world of Sorantium from impending genocide.
Author's Note: This is an extract from my sequel novel. I descided to put it on here to see what people think, before I attempt to publicize my series. I feel that this extract contains some of the strongest material without ruining the plot/ outcomes of the novel(s) previous, while still being able to grab attention. Reviews are extreemly welcome. Feedback is much appreciated!!! I hope you enjoy!!!
Standing there, watching them dance beneath the candle-toting chandelier, locked in a mutual, sensitive, embrace a smile plucked the corner of the young man’s mouth. The scar that shined in the light moved slightly as his cheek was distorted by the smile. His sandstone coloured hair swung around his face and his bright blue eyes almost seemed to glitter.
He didn’t want to disturb them. They looked so…perfect.
His eyes, filled with sorrowful happiness, glanced towards the floor. He felt sick. After all that they had gone through, he couldn’t help but feel completely awful that he was going to ask them this. It wasn’t fair! Even after everything that he had been put through, it had been staggered. Twenty five years is more than enough time to deal with issues. It had only been a few months for these two. They didn’t deserve this. Showing up, bearing this kind of news… he may as well have been Belondus himself.
No… with this news, he was something far worse. Even before he would say it, they would know that this wasn’t natural. He was supposed to be dead. He would have preferred to be dead. At least when he was dead, he could see them. His friends. Long dead before he joined them.
Reaching down to his hip, the young man placed his hand on the hilt of his sword. Thin and bearing an ever so slight curve, the sheath swayed almost dreamily at his side. Looking down, his eyes managed to pick out the engraving on the underside of the guard. ‘Ai’.
Gritting his teeth, he flexed the fingers of his right hand before sweeping it through his hair, earning it a messy look, not befitting his apparent appearance of at least twenty six. He acted more like a teenage boy.
Taking a step forwards, the mithreal of the single knee guard that he wore shined with glittering multitudes of silver and grey in the pale light that illuminated the great hall. The shimmering black silk of the vest that he wore brushed softly against his skin, resulting in a tingling running along his spine. The top of this vest, around his neck, bore an upturned collar, lined with a golden material, similar to the kind that was sewn around the holes that his arms sprouted from.
Every step that he took forwards made him feel sick. His stomach whirled and convulsed as if it were tying itself into knots, before rapidly returning to normal and then starting over again. It was a viciously sickening cycle that he was all too eager to break away from.
Perhaps he didn’t have to do this. He could go and request it from someone else. Anyone else. But…. He knew that this was impossible. These four were the best, and he knew it. He just didn’t want to burden them anymore. One of them had died. No-one should be put through that. He knew what it was like to die and come back, knowing that someone had been sacrificed so that he could live.
His tongue had turned to mush in his mouth as it rolled between his teeth in an attempt to ease his anxiety. Closing his eyes, the young man took a deep breath as he approached the two black-clad figures; the male in a suit and the female in a dress. They each wore masquerade masks.
Stopping their dance, abruptly, the male stiffened as he broke away from the female. This may sound odd, but it appeared as if she were leading in the dance as opposed to him.
Laying his eyes on the young man, the male dancer removed his mask and stared forwards, his dusty grey eyes bearing a confused and horrified look.
“You…!” he whispered.
Flashing a slightly pained smile across his handsome young face, the man with the sandstone-coloured hair squinted his eyes before replying: “Yeah…it’s me…”
Noticing that the two had stopped dancing, the two men who were leading the orchestra at the front of the great hall abruptly ceased playing and placed their cellos on the floor, before leaping from the stage and moving towards the young man and the couple.
The musician who was currently foremost towards the threesome called out, his eyes squinting in surprise. “Hey! Cifer! What’s up!?”
“Nothing, Wyatt!” the male of the couple called back, turning his head of dusty, windswept, blonde hair towards the man who had just called out.
“You sure?” Wyatt questioned, reaching the group and tilting his head to the side, resulting in his matted hair swaying ever so slightly. “This guy seems like he has a problem.”
“Mmm,” hummed the other musician in agreement, finally reaching them and peering through his jet black fringe.
“See,” Wyatt stated, nodding to his left. “Even Darqh agrees with me.”
“I-it’s nothing,” stammered Cifer. “Just get back to playing. He…he’s an old friend. And I need to talk to him.”
As the two men dubiously walked away, the woman who Cifer had, previously, been engaged in a dance with turned towards him with a defiant look on her, now unmasked, face.
“No he’s not…!” she whispered to him. “I’ve known you longer than anyone else and even I don’t know him…!”
“I just didn’t want them to worry, Jane,” he smiled back, reassuringly. “I just need to talk to him for a second. Go and talk to Serenity. I’ll be back in a second…”
Eyeing him suspiciously, Jane paused for a brief second, as if assessing the situation, before begrudgingly moving across the hall towards a group of people, who were currently engaged in a deep conversation as to the nature of the uninvited guest.
Turning harshly towards the young man (who, in fact appeared older than Cifer, but that was besides the point), Cifer knit his brows and asked, in a hushed tone: “What are you doing here, Dimitrius!?”
Dimitrius still maintained his sombre attitude as he briefly cast his eyes towards the floor. He didn’t say a word.
“You’re supposed to be dead!” Cifer hissed. “You died sixty years ago! What if someone recognised you?”
“I doubt that…” Dimitrius whispered.
“You want to bet?!” Cifer responded, still hushed, as he knit his brows together and proceeded to partially grit his teeth. “There’s paintings of you everywhere around here!”
“But those were made when I was much older,” responded the long dead war-hero. “I was forty years old when they were painted.”
“And you think that’s going to make a difference?” Cifer, looked over his shoulder, casually, catching a glimpse of his ‘Theory of Magic and it’s Practice’ teacher. “See that man? Behind me? The one in the tweed jacket?” Dimitrius attempted to crane his neck. “Don’t make it obvious!!” Cifer hissed, dissuading his acquaintance from staring any more.
“What about him?” the folk hero asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Not really…” he mused, in response, as if trying to place his finger on something that wasn’t quite there. “He’s got Irumaas features, but… his hair’s the wrong colour. Irumaas have black hair, his is more like mi-” He stopped his line of speech instantly.
“He’s your grandson!” Cifer hissed, through gritted teeth, still maintaining his quiet tone.
“My…” Dimitrius was at a loss for words. Standing there, stunned by the notion, tears brimmed in the corners of his eyes as he choked out the words: “W-what’s his name?”
“Dustan,” Cifer said. “And he’s got an older brother. And a nephew. Emal and… Remiel…”
“Remiel…?” Dimitrius, gasped, fighting back the tears. “Like…?”
“Yes…like Romiel. Your son insisted."
“He’s still-?” he began, but he was soon cut off by Cifer’s sorrowful shake of his head. “When?”
“Three or four years ago…” he whispered.
Containing his sorrow, Dimitrius closed his eyes before re-opening them and stating into the swirling grey of Cifer’s irises.
“Something’s happened…” he whispered, in a desperate attempt to change the topic. “Something … something bad. And I mean really bad.”
“How bad?” Cifer asked, still whispering, even though Dimitrius’ tone had risen.
“I’m talking bad,” Dimitrius stated. “Bad as in ‘Passing of the Gods’ bad,” he said, making reference to the event which led to his death.
“So if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck?” Cifer questioned.
“Yep,” Dimitrius responded, deathly serious. “It’s a damn good looking goose.”
“What?” Cifer spat out, unable to maintain a serious tone after Dimitrius’ absurd statement.
“Basically, the same as Belondus, but worse,” he said, harshening his expression.
“How is that even possible?”
“His daddy isn’t too pleased with us at the moment.”
“So here I am, nearly getting myself killed, and now I have the Almighty on my back?” Cifer questioned in disbelief. “Are you seriously telling me that after all the shit I’ve been put through, I have the God of Gods hunting me down.”
“What do you mean not exactly?”
“He’s still locked up Empantius knows where for the next 900 years, give or take a few.”
“So then what’s the damn problem?!” Cifer uttered harshly.
“He may be locked up, but that doesn’t mean that he cant affect things here,” was the response that Cifer was met with. “He cant directly influence things, but he can use people. Warp them, change them.” His expression hardened. “Bounty hunters Cifer.”
“But if that’s all then-”
“No, Cifer!” the war hero stated. “There’s more. In the west. The Immunatas Mountains…. They’re going to try and bring him through!”
“Like in your time, with the Gate?!”
“Kind of…But not. In my time, the God’s were already through. The gate was just for the army to pass through. And even then, the Almighty was still trapped. With him, there’s no need for an army. I’m talking scorched earth here. Every man, woman and child in Sorantium with be methodically hunted down and slaughtered!”
“All this because of the Luxuria incident?”
“Not just that…” Dimitrius uttered, lowering his tone. “Everything! Silus, The Uprising, The Passing of the Gods, Luxuria! Everything the almighty tried to exterminate the mages was stopped by us two!”
“Then…how did you come back?” Cifer questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“Called in a favour from Empantius… He owes me.”
“The God of death?”
“ ‘God of life, ending life, God of death, ending death,’ ” the war hero recited, a smile plucking the corner of his mouth. “Romiel can only bring you back once. Empantius can do it as many times as he likes, plus there’s no sacrifice. But… that’s only if he likes. And trust me. He doesn’t like anything very often.”
“So…you want me to help?” Cifer asked, in a low toned voice, as if already expecting the answer.
“Yes,” came the simple reply. It was a single word, however, with it came so much hardship. Even saying it forced Dimitrius to close his eyes and practically grit his teeth.
Contemplating the matter for a brief second, Cifer cast his eyes dusty grey eyes towards the floor and bit down on his bottom lip.
His mind was in turmoil. After everything he had gone through, six months ago, was he really ready to put his life on the line? Back then, he had only done what he had because of Jane. Because if he hadn’t stopped Luxuria, then Jane would have died. Hell, up until then, he had been working for the demon! Who’s to say that he wouldn’t put everyone at risk if he were to accept Dimitrius’ offer. What if…what if Jane got dragged into this somehow. If anything happened to her again, then he wouldn’t be able to bear it! Could he really do this?
“I’ll do it,” he said, suddenly. Dimitrius appeared stunned. Cifer had even surprised himself.
“You know that you don’t have to do this?” Dimitrius said, raising an eyebrow and staring deep into Cifer’s eyes.
“I know, but…” he began, but soon trailed off. To be honest, even he didn’t know why he had agreed. It was just some kind of innate feeling that spurred him into the decision.
Pausing for a second, Dimitrius averted his eyes, before whispering: “I’m sorry…”
“Aaaahhhh…” sighed the man in the crooked top hat.
Leaning his elbows against the table at which he was sat, he arched his back and moved up close against the wooden frame as he yawned. The result of this odd, albeit slow, movement resulted in his hat slipping ever so slightly to the side. Laying himself back in his chair, the man proceeded to raise his hands, covered by a thin pair of leather gloves, and methodically crack each of his knuckles.
The aforementioned procedure earned him a thoroughly disgusted look from several men, situated at the bar across the room. Looking across at them, his face morphed into, oddly enough, a cheerful child-like smile. It was actually quite creepy. It didn’t suit him. After all, if you were to have seen him, you would have agreed. Long black hair that fell around his shoulders, framed a square-jawed face and heavy set green eyes that almost seemed to twinkle.
Clasping the rim of his hat, he righted it’s position before slumping back in his chair and wrapping his body in the heavy black cloak that was draped across his shoulders.
He was sick of waiting. It was them who had called for a meeting. It was like a slap in the face that they didn’t show up on time. It pissed him off.
The instant the thought crossed his mind, the door to his left creaked open on rusty hinges, filling the room with the dreary squeal.
Two figures stepped through the door.
Exactly the same height and wearing matching outfits, consisting of leather based shirts and trousers, they looked quite a sight. From their identical faces, it was easy to see that they were twins, although their expressions begged to differ. The one on the right bore an eerie calm to his face, while the other appeared more aggressive, characterised by his permanent sneer.
Ha! he thought to himself. Typical bounty hunters! Can they be any more obvious!
“Good morning, gentlemen!” the man in the top hat cried out, gleefully, from his seated position. His voice bore an energetic chime to it, much like that of a young child’s, however this just seemed to further enhance his strange and slightly odd demeanour.
Wasting no time, the two men collapsed into the chairs opposite him and laid their hands onto the table.
“Ready to get down to business I see,” he giggled, his voice flowing from his lips like treacle.
“Of course,” replied the twin whose face was always a mask of unwavering melancholy. “Why else would we call you here, if not to ‘get down to business’?”
“No need to be so snippy, Jonathan,” he chuckled, grasping the rim of his hand and tipping it forwards in a kind of salute.
“If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t get jack shit done!” retorted the other twin. Compared to his brother, although he had the same features and clothes, his face was set into an unwavering sneer and his hair appeared to be messy and wild. He was the polar opposite.
“Michael, please,” the man in the top hat replied, ever so slightly exasperated as he slumped back in his chair. Peering from beneath the shadow that his hat threw across his face, the man’s eyes began to sparkle. “ I simply wanted to make sure that we were on the same page. It’s always wise to check details…. Especially when dealing with Gods!”
“Get off my cart, ‘ya bum!”
Dragged from the back of the stagecoach by the collar of his tatty leather jacket, the man let out a muffled grunt of surprise as he fell to the floor. Dragging his hands through the dusty grit of the soil, he lifted his head and mumbled a long string of words:
Standing above the man, the owner of the cart gritted his teeth and glared downwards.
“What do you mean ‘what did I do that for?’!” he shouted, suddenly thrusting his leg forwards and kicking the man hard in his side. “I’m sick and tired of gutter trash like you takin’ advantage of my job! You wanna ride? Then damn well pay for it, ‘ya piece of shit!”
“Uuughh!” groaned back the painful response as he rolled onto his side, clasping his ribs. “Fine, I’ll pay…” Reaching back, into the pocket of his tight fitting, ripped, trousers, he appeared as if he were about to pull out some form of coinage. When he withdrew his hand, it was far from what the coach driver had expected. Displayed prominently from his knuckle, the image of the man’s middle finger assaulted the driver’s vision. “Keep the change…” he mumbled, raising himself to his feet in front of the dumbstruck stagecoach driver.
Not wanting to stick around, after his display, the man staggered to the side away from the scene. Ignoring the frantic curses and swear words emanating from the site he had previously occupied, he made a beeline for the closest bar.
As the soles of his worn and ripped shoes crunched against the ground, his body almost seemed to sway, resulting in the long scarf, loosely draped around his neck, to whip around his body in a jerking motion.
Bursting through the doors of the pub, the man staggered towards the bar and threw his length of scarf over his shoulder. Leaning forwards, the elbows of his jacket squeaking against, the wood, he absent minded began to rotate his stubble-lined jaw.
The old man who was currently occupying the space behind the bar turned his head towards the new arrival and proceeded to let out a low groan. Walking towards the man, he placed his hands on the bar and sighed.
“Back again?” he asked, slightly exasperated.
“Suddup,” the man groaned, lolling his head to the side and closing his eyes. “Beer… Now.” With this blunt and direct comment, he re-opened his eyes.
“Money first!” the bartender said, knitting his brows together. “I’m sick and tired of you owing me and not paying me back!”
From this response, it was safe to assume that he didn’t have any. Turning around, he staggered slightly before leaving the pub and sitting down on the floor, just outside the door.
Raising one hand, he began to half-heartedly call out: “Change? Anyone got any change?”
“So,” said Jonathan, placing his hands on the table and squinting his eyes, as he attempted to analyze the mysterious individual in the cape and top hat. “How many of us are there?”
“Nine,” came the light hearted reply. “Including myself of course.” As he said this, he broke into a cheerful grin. “Three of my own men and five outside recruits, two of which are you and your brother. All bounty hunters, so I doubt that there will be a clash of motivations.” His smile widened.
“Can we trust them?” was Jonathan’s next question, averting his eyes for a split second in order to check on his twin, who was currently ordering some kind of drink from the bar.
“I was veeeery specific in my recruitment policy,” he chuckled. “All are willing to complete our little ‘project’, or die trying…As long as they get paid of course. Hehehehe.” His child-like laugh cut through the air.
Once again glancing over at his brother, Jonathan pulled a slightly nervous face.
“Your brother does know what we’re up to, doesn’t he?” he chuckled, cutting off Jonathan’s train of thought.
“No,” the blunt reply arose. “He doesn’t. And he doesn’t want to know. He prefers not to. He’s just interested in fighting. The purpose of the fight is of no concern to him.”
“Hehehehehe. But does he know who we are going to end up fighting? Hmm?”
Jonathan averted his eyes.