…a dominion of angelic magic — where the sound of a word could kill and even the most average human possessed supernatural abilities.
Victoria desperately grinded the tip of the blade into a wood floor. Her sparkling auburn hair clung to her cheek as she crouched on her knees, mumbling inaudibly to herself like a woman stricken with madness.
Daniel Of Eagles, age five, turned away, attempting to ignore his mother’s odd behavior. His eyes began to wander, surveying the room lit only by the midnight moon intermittently gleaming through the skylight on the charred benches.
Against one wall loomed a statue of a water-bearer carrying a jug. The adjacent wall was home to a sculpture of a man holding a cauldron to the sky and parallel to the cauldron holder stood a human-sized figure of a woman with a circular hole in the center of her chest from which the charred air flowed.
Lastly, against the fourth wall was a rock-shaped monster, bracing up a boulder on his shoulders.
And odd place, Daniel thought.
“Mommy, where are we?” Daniel asked in his tiny voice.
“We are at an old temple of the elementals,” Victoria replied, sounding as if she were out of breath.
“What happened to it?” Daniel inquired. “It looks burnt.”
“Huh, oh, dragons sweetie. But don’t be afraid,” Victoria answered, flexing her shoulders and digging the knife into the wood.
The symbol is almost complete. She thought.
Daniel sniffed twice and smelled the noxious, oily residue from dragon’s breath and became even more confused.
“Mommy, why are we here?”
Victoria paused, contemplating whether she should answer honestly. Then she continued to thrust the knife’s tip into the floor.
“Um, don’t worry, sweetie―everything is going to be okay.”
Trusting his mother’s statement, Daniel began to relax, but he could not ignore the strange yelps. The sounds resembled hysterical laughter. Possibly rabid dogs. But he was certain, the cackles did not sound friendly, and they were closing in on their location.
Daniel looked around to see if he could identify the source of the weird groaning but there was nothing there … only the darkness in the midst of the temple.
Puzzled, Daniel slowly returned his attention to his mother. She was mumbling still. This time her words had cleared―
“You told me if I make this symbol you would be here,” Victoria whispered. She wiped the carving from the floor. “You made me remember it,” she said, rising to her feet.
With a blank expression on her face, she stared at the symbol―a circle within a circle with angelic lettering. Victoria looked upward through the sky light at the midnight sky flickering with aurora lights, changing from blue to red.
“I did it!” Victoria shouted, “Where are you? Where are you?”
Startled, Daniel spouted, “Who mommy? Who are you talking to?”
“Help us please―we need you,” Victoria pleaded aloud as if she was talking to someone… something… somehow. “Your son needs you,” she stated as tears rolled down her cheeks.
The cackles blared louder, closer.
“Okay, Okay, we need more time,” Victoria reasoned, wiping the tears from her face. “Yes, more time.”
In desperation, she began ransacking the front of the temple, flipping benches over, searching for something. Anything. Then it caught her eyes―the tall podium. With haste, she looked behind it and gasped in relief.
“Daniel, come here, sweetie,” she instructed, waving her hand for him to come to her. The young boy tottered over. “Listen, we are going to play a game. Okay?”
“Um hum,” Daniel agreed, shaking his head up and down with excitement.
“This is a secret hiding space, and I want you to hide in here,” Victoria said, pointing to the opening behind the podium.
“Okay,” Daniel said. He willingly climbed into the cubby hole.
“Now baby, don’t come out unless I tell you to,” Victoria stressed. “No matter what you hear, stay in the secret hiding place. Do you understand me?”
Young Daniel nodded his head “yes.”
“Mommy, were you talking to my daddy? Is he coming to help us?”
Victoria paused. She smiled and patted him on his hand as she rubbed his palms on her face. “Danny, stay in here. Help will be here soon.”
Daniel smiled excitedly. “My daddy is coming.”
He had never met his father before, and his mother had told him many fantastical stories of his greatness. It was because of his duties that he could not be with Daniel. Now today, they may finally meet.
“I will see daddy?” Daniel asked.
Victoria nervously touched Daniel on his face and kissed him on the forehead.
“I love you Daniel,” she uttered. “Shhh, now be quiet and let’s wait.” She covered the podium with the cloth on top.
Seconds later, as Daniel huddled in the cramped darkness of the podium, he heard the door to the temple crash open. The cackles from earlier, now echoed throughout the sanctuary. He listened closely.
“What do you want, Grolar filth?” Victoria asserted.
The mysterious rough voice of an unknown Grolar male responded, “Today is recruitment day. You know why we are here?”
“I will never join Mephistopheles and his foolish rebellion,” she said. “I am a faithful Golonian, congregator of the Order of the Breath”
“The SODs don’t take no for an answer. So make it easy on yourself, human female.”
“Is this your kind’s idea of persuasion,” she argued. “Three beasts chasing a woman through the streets?”
“Forgive our manners,” wheezed another male Grolar. Each of his words ended in a slurp. “We are not trained in your human ways,” he said. The Grolars started to chuckle, which lead to a light cackle.
“What is this?” the beastly one holding the boy said, feeling the heat radiating from his body.”
“If you do not convert, then you are against the Sondonians. So come, receive your brand and all will be fine,” the rough Grolar said.
Daniel sat quietly behind the podium. Yet, he became curious as he listened to the strange voices. He wondered, is that my father?
After a few seconds, Daniel could not endure the suspense any longer. He peeked from underneath the cloth.
To his surprise, he saw three Grolar men; two of the beastly looking men stood tall and muscular, sporting various lengths of black, snake-like hair. The shortest of the three had a hunched back with a bald head and big hands but all their faces were similar―with oval shaped, glowing eyes and pointy noses―as if they were born from the same womb. They appeared to be devolving from men to beasts.
The three Grolar men wore the tradition Grolar uniforms―black pants with no shirts and only straps around their bare chests to hold weaponry like battle axes and swords.
The Grolars surrounded Daniel’s mother. She back into a corner and pulled out the hunting knife.
“Now, what are you going to do with that?” the tallest of the Grolars asked Victoria. He chuckled, unimpressed by her small blade.
“I’m going to cut your throat!” Victoria threatened.
The Grolar’s laughter subsided into an angry growl, not taking kindly to the woman’s threat.
Victoria lunged at him, and he side-stepped, grabbing her. With his beastly strength, he squeezed her wrist until the knife dropped from her hand. The tall Grolar wrapped his huge palm around Victoria’s throat with his chest pressed against her back and growled, outstretching his tongue to lick the side of her face―
“Leave my mommy alone!” five-year-old Daniel screamed.
The three Grolars turned and looked at the youngling. He was standing, breathing heavily, with his little fists raised.
“A child,” the hunchback Grolar snickered―the men laughed aloud, cackling like animals.
“What was that, little one?” the tall Grolar questioned as he held his mother.
“I said leave my mommy alone,” he barked.
“Danny, run!” Victoria choked―
“Shhh, don’t talk,” the Grolar sputtered in her ear, blowing his foul breath on her cheeks as she struggled to break free.
“It looks like we’ve stumbled upon a special double treat,” the hunchback said. “We should sell the woman to Orbulus and the child to the Morph warrior, Hermaphrodite.”
“Yeah, they will pay a hefty fee in gold eagle coin,” the third beastly Grolar snarled, staring at Daniel.
“The demon Orbulus loves fresh women to possess,” the hunchback confirmed, knowing the guardian lord of the shadow wraith had an appetite for possessing the essences of the female soul and forcing them to speak in unnatural tongues.
“Yes, and the Morph warrior loves to eat the little ones,” the beastly Grolar added. “Come here, little one―we won’t hurt you.”
“No!” Daniel panted, as his breathing quickened.
The revolting Grolar lunged at Daniel and grabbed him by the shirt. Daniel pulled away, struggling to break free. “Get off me!” he said. “Let me go!”
“Release my son!” Victoria demanded.
“Now that’s enough from you,” the Grolar holding her throat said. He turned her body to face his. “Or maybe the only way out is conversion to our tribe. Do you accept?”
Victoria was struggling to breathe.
“Leave us alone!” Daniel yelled again.
The Grolar who gripped his mother by the throat ignored Daniel’s demands while the other two cackled with delight.
Daniel’s heart raced as his chest swelled in and out breathed. Unnatural energy churned within his body. The building began to shake, and his body began to glow with a reddish heat.
The Grolars looked at Daniel with amazement.
“What is this?” the beastly one holding the boy said, feeling the heat radiating from his body.
“Maybe we should go,” the hunchback said fearfully.
“No, he’s just a human boy,” the beastly one retorted as he pulled Daniel by the arm.
Young Daniel thrashed about, and the Grolar beast found that he could not move him. Now using both hands and bending his knees, the beastly one struggled to pull the child, who seemed to have an unseen force holding him in place.
Suddenly, Daniel hollered, “Go away!”
In a flash, his words burst into red light energy mixed with flames of fire that emanated from his body. The building and all around him swelled with heat and exploded, splintering into pieces.
Daniel dropped to the ground as the building debris rained from the sky onto his body. Everything for a half a mile, including his mother and the Grolars, was gone, leaving an ash-filled circle around Daniel as he lay in the center, unconscious and unscathed, with only soot upon his face.
Minutes later, a mysterious woman dressed in a white-hooded garment walked up to the site and saw Daniel’s body. She looked at the destruction around him.
What have you done, my son?” the hooded woman disapproved. She reached down and picked Daniel up, holding his small limp body in her arms.
“Still alive,” she affirmed, as she felt him breathing.
As the woman closed her eyes, she mumbled inaudibly―a gush of light. And they disappeared in the darkness of the night.
“If you love angels, demons, dragons and knights, the Brood of Angels is right for you,” says Tucker. “…And there is more dark angel fantasy to come.”
As the struggle for power increases, Daniel, his friends, and the Norophim realms’ fate is cloaked in betrayal, chaos, and a shocking discovery that leaves the unanswered questions: Who is Daniel and how will the Brood of Angels endure?