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Chapter Two:

Explanations.

 ***

The sun reigned down the Earth with the heat and light that only mid-Spring can give: Heated but not scorching, a dry heat with a mix of humidity. The air is filled with the sounds of the Foo Fighters on the local rock station, which was being played from the open garage of a local body shop. Along with the sound of music, the noise of drilling and car engines filled the air from the garage.

Daniel pulled himself out of the engine of a red 1970 El Camino. He smoothed out his white undershirt, which was stained with oil stains. He took a deep breath, finally breathing fresh air; his stomach sucking in and then slowly released back to its large girth. Daniel looked at the owner of the car, a balding, skinny man with a bushy mustache and a Dale Earnhardt T-shirt and blue jeans. The customer had a distant look on his face and then spoke in a thick, Southern twang.

“It gonna get fixed?”

“What the hell did you do to it?” Daniel asked. “I never saw a car that had that many modifications and still is just a piece of shit.”
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Chapter One:
To Escape and To Live.

 Silence and darkness cradles the room like a mother’s arms. The bare, cold wall lightly glowed gray with the casting of moonlight that shown through the glass, with shadows of the bars that guarded the window sill. The cold, mechanical door remained closed, like the sealed off entrance of a crypt. The bed he laid in was stiff, but not cold as he body heat has created an imprint on the thin mattress. The moonlight made his white flesh glow, as he only had the orange pants of his uniform on. He pushed his raven black hair away from his ears; his hair proved to be naturally bouncy during his three year stint in the prison he calls home. His hard brown eyes scanned down to his bare chest; beads of sweat glistened on him, making the ink of his tattoo shiny. His chest, once virgin, now is forever scared with the claws of a bear, ripping at his flesh. It was only two weeks old, and made him grin at his own handiwork.

His ears pricked up as he heard the noise he had anticipated all night for. The soft footsteps of a certain guard, as rhythmic as the goose-stepping SS, met his wishing ears. By the position of the moon he knew it’s been an hour after lights out, most of the prisoners are fast asleep, the others are plotting a failed version of his own plan: To escape. The keyhole gave way to a key, and the solid door that has held him in this room slowly crept open. A new light shone through, the artificial light of the hallway. The man on the bed rose up, getting to his feet before the silhouette of the guard came crashing into view.

“It’s time,” the guard’s words were cold and soft. The guard stepped into the small room, the scent of jasmine followed, enticing the nostrils of the prisoner.
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Rook CH.1 PT.2

Chapter One
Human (part two)

  Daniel froze at the front door of his aunt’s small house. To his amazement, the streets were filled with fog, like an uneasy night at sea. He paused at the end of the front porch to gaze at the sight before him. The grounded clouds stretched over the street like a soft, gray blanket; the cold gusts of wind sliced into his flesh, his eyes tear up from the sudden cold. He closes his eyes, allowing the protective tears slide down his cheeks. After breathing in the cold air once more, he ventured into the fog, straining his eyes to see the lights of street lamps and select few in coming cars.

Daniel tugged at his heavy denim jacket and hitched up his belt on his baggy, faded jeans. After hitting the unlock button on his keychain he climbed into his yellow H2 Hummer and started the ignition. The dark beat of “Boogie Man” by Tech N9ne filled his stereo speakers as he pulled out of the small driveway. Daniel flipped open his cell phone and found Little Ed’s number and dialed it.

“Hello?” the voice answered. It was thick with bass that Little Ed was known for (little body, big voice).

“You’re actually alive?” Daniel asked.

“I was going to ask you the same question. Where the fuck you been?”
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Rook CH 1

Chapter One:

Human

 

  “What about your father?” he asked, his word slurred from the vodka and post-sex endorphins rushing through his body.

“No, no,” the voice on the phone sounded distant to him. “The Fathers are pushing a new drug that our pushers never heard of! I sent a guy to test the shit and I haven’t heard back from him.”

“Who are The Fathers?”

“That’s also an issue. I ain’t got a fucking clue!”

Daniel takes a swig from the vodka bottle beside him. “Of course, leave it to me to find out.”

“You are the top drug dealer in Florida. Well, maybe only second if these Fathers keep at it.”

Daniel spits out his vodka, “These assholes spring up overnight and are already threatening my status? It took me months to knock off the Young Riders.”

“Get your ass out of your bed, away from whatever fat ass, disease carrying hooker you’re fucking, put on your pants and meet me at the drop house.”
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Prologue:

Eight Years Ago

    The sound of dripping water was the only noise, besides his heavy breathing, as he ambled deeper into the dark corridor-like tunnel. He was one of the few who helped design this underground bunker so he knew exactly where the president was running to. The man took a deep breath as a rush of pair waved over his body. He winced but tried to make as little noise as he could. So much has happened in the last hour alone. His wife was killed in an explosion, his best friend kidnapped his daughter and now… now he has to kill the president of United Socialist States of America.
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The wind howled as if in anger, bending the thick, lush grass of the valley. The sun beamed down, which made the grass warm and allowed the trees to cast shadows. In the shadows of the trees were the twins Trystan and Syam, on either side of the wood. They were scouts for Prince Merrick, peering into their spyglasses every so often. The face of Trystan read fear with each glance in his spyglass. He looked beside him, Syam held his ground and his face unreadable.

“How can you be so calm, brother?”

Syam looked over, “I’m not. But the prince is correct about liberty. He gives me hope.”

“Hope or not, look at them,” he motioned to across the valley.

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Chapter Four:
The Lines Have Been Drawn

    “Good shot!” Yves exclaimed.

Ethelwulf grunted his approval as he lowered his bow. Yves and Ethewulf have been in an archery contest for the last hour, as the sun slowly rose into a full morning. Yves went to retrieve another arrow from her quiver and felt nothing. She cursed under her breath.

Prince Merrick arrived to the small archery range at the edge of the village; he held a quiver of freshly made arrows. The prince glanced at the target range, which was littered with arrows. His eyebrows raised and lowered in a spoiled surprised sort of way. He held the quiver out to Yves.

“What’s this?” she inquired.

The prince smiled, “Freshly made arrows, metal tipped.”

Yves’ jaw dropped, “For me?”

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Great Stoner Debate Series Prelude:
Should Sara-Beth know Billy is cheating?/ Where is North Korea?

 “So where’s Mark?” asked Krystian as he settled down on the couch. Krystain wasn’t as slim as Ryan, due to his athletically toned build, but his hair was just as long and straight as Billy’s. Well, with the exception it’s tied into dread locks. He licked the paper to roll the joint.

“Billy pissed him off,” Ryan said as he sat on the other side of the couch.

“Billy pisses everyone off,” Krystain cackled. “You smoked his whole stash, didn’t you?”

Billy shook his head, “Knocked up his girlfriend.”

Krystain looked up, “Mark has a girlfriend? Funny, thought he was a fruit.”

“You knew he had a girlfriend. She drove him to your house to get his stash,” Ryan replied.

“I thought that was his sister.”

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New Osiris CH 1 PRT 2

Jenny stared out her window into the black abyss that would be the backyard. It has been a nightly ritual to her now, for the past three years. For an hour after the sun would set and the air of night crept into all creation, she would stand watch.  She constantly had to pull her curly dark hair out of her face, afraid of what might happened if she blinked. The scars on her torso, arms and legs burned each night. She knew Jack was looking for her. What was worse is she knew he wasn’t Jack anymore. Her once protective and loving brother warped into that being, that creature their senile grandmother created. She knew he was Osiris now. And she knew Osiris wanted to finish the job.

 Unlike Osiris, Jenny was given to more stable family members (she was never told where her brother is). Outside her bedroom door watched her Aunt Cindy. She was her aunt by marriage, but she tried to take care of Jenny as her own daughter. Cindy watched closely, rubbing her arms. Goosebumps begin to appear on her smooth ebony skin. Cindy walked away from the bedroom door to go check the thermostat.

 Cindy looked at the temperature. She tilted her head. She was nearly shivering and it was 80 degrees. It made no since to her; she tapped the indicator a little too hard and broke a nail. She grimaced and retracted her hand, scanning it. It was a close snap too!

 Cindy made her way to the kitchen to get some glue for her nail. She wanted to be quick so she picked up her pace. Suddenly, as she hurried into the kitchen she slipped on the tile. With a soft thud she landed in a dazed. Her rolls rolled in pain. After a few seconds she began to focus again. But someone was on top of her. A young boy, barely in his teenage years had his foot on her throat. He was pale, paler than anything Cindy has ever seen in her life. This boy had the eyes of a beast, not anything of human. It flashed a smile of sharp, white canines. It was the same smile a cat would give to a lizard before dismembering it. Cindy tried to scream but the foot on her neck made even breathing impossible. The pale boy twisted his foot with force and speed. He didn’t have shoes on, he had cleats. With the friction the small spikes had and the forced on the tender jugular, her neck slit open. The white tile stained with the blood of innocence.

 “Oh Jenny. Why did you kill your aunt?” the pale boy laughed.

 

 Jenny shot up from her bed. She strained her ears and picked up some sort of sobbing from downstairs. She jumped out of her bed and ran down the stair cases. She held her pajama bottoms up so she wouldn’t trip over them. Her fears were confirmed when she was caught her cousin. Her eyes went wide. In the kitchen was her aunt, neck slit. Her uncle was in the corner with his fellow police officers.

 Her cousin lost her grip and Jenny ran to the body but was stopped by her cousin again. She heard her whisper, “Isn’t those your softball cleats, Jen?”

  Chapter Three
The Order of The Knights of The Last Days

   The sun hung over the horizon as the ship bobbed up and down over the waves. The crew of the ship were Order of the Knights of The Last Days, hurrying themselves to keep the ship in good shape as the port town grew larger with each bob. Gazing in the distance with his piercing green eyes, Captain Romulus listened half interested as a solider read from a torn and tattered atlas about the town they were racing towards. He pulled his shaggy red hair from his face as the wind blew hard against him. The salty smell invaded his nostrils, but he stood there, unaffected. His eyes remained on the port town.
  The solider squinted to read the handwritten print against the light glow of the setting sun. He spoke in a dull, monotone voice, “It says the town is called Korinthos, once a booming port town before the disasters.”

  “Anything else?”

  He nodded, “Yes, Captain. Korinthos was the heart of trade for the kingdom of Hazar-Shual, a now fallen kingdom. Since the disasters and the fall of its empire, it is now a den for thieves and black market sells.”

  As the sun finally set, Romulus smiled to himself, “I’m sure we’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

  The chill of the night was heavy tonight. After being weeks out on sea, the ship finally made port. The thieves lurked in the shadows as the beggars grew silent. The sight of the Knights making port was a new sight to the torn down town of Korinthos. One of the thieves in the shadows looked over at his friend. Beads of sweat formed above his brow, his breathing became heavy. His friend put his hand over his mouth, in fear that they could get caught by the legendary Knights.

  “I knew there was a Knight outpost outside of town,” he whispered to his friend, “But I thought I’d never see the day when it would be used.”

  His nervous friend nodded silently. Suddenly his eyes grew wide and he pointed franticly. His friend peered out onto the boat and his eyes widen.

  Coming off the ship was the tall officer, with shaggy red hair, and piercing green eyes. His fellow Knights stopped what they were doing to salute their captain. Ten years ago Captain Romulus promised himself he would never come back to his homeland. He sniffed the air; the salty smell of the sea filled his nostrils. He bent his toes to feel the steady and firm flat port and he relaxed.

  This isn’t home, he thought to himself, No this town is filled with scum worse than filthy mages.

  “Captain Romulus, sir,” inquired the young Knight from the ship. Being on land gave him a more ranged voice. He saluted his superior and Romulus acknowledged him. “All of the cargo and crew is accounted for. The outpost is holding information just for you, sir. We move out on your orders.”

  “Well then,” he spoke in the accent of the land, “Let’s not keep our fellow Knights waiting. We leave for the outpost now.”

  “As you wish, sir.”

  The young Knight blew his whistle to alert the Knights to follow their Captain. Romulus scanned the port one last time; the moon kissed the town in a romantic setting tonight. Doubtful, he thought. I can smell the sulfuric aftermath of magic.
 
Romulus was met at the end of the dock by a square jawed middle aged man with clean cut chestnut brown hair and beady brown eyes that seemed to be placed between a continuous row of crows’ feat.
  Lieutenant Aleron didn’t bother saluting Captain Romulus, instead kept his arms clasped behind his back and feet apart; and the Captain didn’t either. The two locked eyes and walked in sync with each other. A silent grudge was sensed by those whom they passed. Behind the two officers two small lines formed, one behind the Captain and one behind the Lieutenant. A total of sixteen soldiers marched behind two commanding officers.

  “How does it feel to return home, Captain?” whispered Aleron in his guttural voice.

  Romulus glared at him, “This is not my home.”

  “You know it is, Romulus. It haunts you more than any other secret,” Aleron chuckled to himself in a wheezy laugh.

  “If anyone should know about haunting secrets it’s you, Aleron.”

  “Yes, but no soul alive knows what they are.”

  “Except for you.”

  Aleron gave that eerie chuckle again, “As I said, Captain, no soul alive knows.”

  Captain Romulus kept his eyes away from the Lieutenant. There were whispers while on the ship that Aleron was trying to conduct magic, but Romulus ignored the accusations. Now that he was on land he could see how easy those accusations could come up, and how possible they might be right.

  Romulus headed his legion down the gravel road that was to lead the way to the nearest outpost where the Order of the Knights of the Last Days rallied information to one another and were able to spend the night if need be. Romulus himself was anxious to be able to take a bath and a change of armor.

  The Knights exited the port town and could see the villa that is the outpost in the near distance. Romulus thought to himself what noble family once lived in that villa before the disasters. It didn’t matter to him, the strongest were surviving and by far the strongest were the Order, especially the ones able enough to withstand his and Aleron’s training.

  The sound of waves crashing slowly subdued as the legion grew closer to the walled in villa. The air filled with the squeak of armor and heavy footsteps. In the distance, torches sparsely decorated the wall. The wind grew still on this road, making the silence near deafening. Aleron walked with his head slightly bowed and hands clasped together in front of him. Romulus occasionally stole glances at him to see if he was even awake or just sleep walking.

  They finally reached the iron barred gate, and were greeted by a fellow Knight. In the darkness he looked young, like a fresh recruit. The gatekeeper silently scanned their mass and gave a nod, without saying a word then called for the gate to be open. His voice was deeper, much deeper, than Romulus expected.

  The iron barred gate groaned as two other Knights slowly opened the heavy gate from the inside for Captain Romulus and his men. When the gate came to a silent halt, the legion marched forward inside the walls of the Knights outpost. The fresh scent of a rose garden rose thick in the air here, as a presence of tranquility washed over Romulus for the first time in weeks.

  Lanterns hung from the front of the villa and ran down the opposite sides of the wall, aiding the moonlight to give off a near colorless scene. Romulus and Aleron led the men, who held a controlled anxiousness to rest, closer to the outpost when the two front doors opened. The two officers stopped in midstride, causing their soldiers to nearly run into each other.

  From inside emerged a fellow commanding officer, as Romulus expected. However, this wasn’t some regional Captain or even a Lieutenant; it was someone of much higher rank and influence. Just by the poise of his strides and intimidating posture when he finally stopped a few meters from the group. His armor had a certain gleam to it, as if newly forged, which provided a light of radiance on his olive complexion. His hair was shaggy and lengthy, not too dissimilar to Captain Romulus, with the exception his hair was parted to one side. It was said that he parted his hair to cover up a gruesome scar that never healed. His cold eyes casted shivers down the young soldiers’ spine, even in the dark.

  Captain Romulus saluted his superior, “General Khan, we come from the mainland to receive information on the supposed uprising.”

  The General held his stance, yet his voice held icy venom, “The uprising is no threat, Captain Romulus.”

  Romulus tried not to shiver as the General spoke his name. The Captain remained silent as the General turned his back and spoke, without turning around, “You and your men need rest.”

 A soldier from behind Romulus spoke foolishly, “But you said the uprising was no threat.”

  The General didn’t even break stride when he turned himself around and walked right up to the solider. The Captain barely had time to evade the General. The young soldier felt himself grow cold inside, out of pure fear when he saw the dark eyes of General Khan, “I said the uprising is no threat. This is not a simple uprising; this is a revolution.”