As she travels through time, Ahneta is faced with a horrific decision that could grant her the fate she's wanted since losing her loved ones, but destroy the new bonds she's created. Will she finally put the past behind her, or will she allow the darkness of grief to consume her?
Her journey for revenge may be over, but Ahneta's story has only just begun.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)|
Read an Excerpt
After The End
By Haley Nicole
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013Haley Nicole
All rights reserved.
Only the Beginning
The sun blared brightly the following morning, unadorned by any clouds threatening rain or storm. A light breeze swept over the capital city, providing some relief from the hammering heat. It was the kind of day best spent at the riverside, attempting to escape from the usual summer discomforts.
Ahneta could recall spending countless days with her feet dangling in the river near the quaint village in which she was raised. She would tie up her long hair, splashing water on her face and friends. Playful fights, the primary weapon being water, were a daily occurrence. With nightfall came the usual summer time argument with her mother over cutting her hair, which Ahneta could never win. Her pale hair remained a constant hindrance until her mother was no longer around to argue. Ahneta could recall many appropriate activities for such a sweltering day, but a festival was not one of them.
She stood in a crowd of sweating, shoving human beings, staring at the celebration going on around her. Glancing upwards, she noticed the endless stream of lanterns hanging from every available place. There were rounded and angular lanterns of countless colors and textures. Currently no lights flickered in them, but come nightfall the city would be so bright that Ahneta doubted anyone would notice the day ending.
Numerous stalls were set up outside the city's shop selling food, charms, weapons, incense, alcohol, clothes, and toys. They lined the streets, displaying bright banners proudly denouncing the slain Dictator and praising some unnamed heroine.
Long live the Heroine! proclaimed one yellow banner.
Death to the Dictator! read another.
Our Golden Age has begun!
The darkness has been destroyed!
Live in fear no longer!
How do they know he's dead? Ahneta wondered in shock.
"Hey!" she called, grabbing the arm of a woman behind a fruit stall.
"What's this festival for? What happened?" The woman smiled, her irritation at being grabbed by a stranger diminishing. "Dictator's dead! Someone finally killed 'em."
"How do you know that's not just a rumor?" Ahneta asked.
"A blind prophet went to the emperor yesterday and said that a heroine had just killed the Dictator. Said she'd be here within the week." She gestured to her surroundings. "So we're holding this festival to welcome her. There'll be a parade the seventh night, and the emperor's waiting."
Ahneta released the woman's arm, immediately deciding not to visit the emperor.
She looked around the cramped street. To her right a young couple stood, smiling foolishly at their infant. The sight of them pinched her heart.
They'll be able to raise their baby in a peaceful land not governed by a man consumed in darkness, Ahneta observed blandly.
She looked over her shoulder and saw a small group of older men. They laughed loudly together, holding fresh bottles of alcohol.
They're drinking to celebrate freedom from a force that has oppressed them their entire lives.
Ahneta followed the flow of the crowd for a few feet before noticing a small group of children.
And they'll never even fully understand what they've been saved from. They'll never experience that kind of loss. They'll never- And it was suddenly all too much for Ahneta. Turning her back on the giggling children, she fled the city.
Ahneta lay on the dry, summer grass, staring up at a cloudless sky and feeling dizzy from a lack of land in sight. Sighing as her cruel mind picked through her memories, she rubbed her face with one hand as her childhood played out behind her eyes.
Th ere was her mother, smiling and humming as she sewed. Th e nameless song reverberated through Ahneta's skull. Humming that song used to be as natural as breathing, yet when she tried it felt more like driving a blade through her own chest.
Next was her father, always full of great advice she never wanted to hear. He was never hesitant to display his frustration with her for that, ranting about how one day she'd wish she'd listened. He was right, of course.
After her father came her placid uncle and his boisterous wife, such a contrasting pair. She remembered her friends, the children she looked after, the boy she thought to marry someday, the elders, the leader of the village, and even the merchants who came through twice a year.
Each memory was another hole in Ahneta's heart. Anger, hatred, and an unwavering desire for revenge had filled those holes for years, but now they were exposed. There was no denying it, no avoiding the thought anymore. They were gone. Her family, her friends, even the people she didn't like all that much were gone forever.
The Dictator was dead. Ahneta had her revenge. He destroyed her life, and she took his. But that didn't bring her family back. That didn't resurrect her neighbors. That didn't restore her village or turn back time. It didn't even fill the emptiness that felt as though it were consuming her, just as darkness had consumed The Dictator.
She was truly becoming nothing.
Ahneta wondered if she ought to take her own life. But taking one's own life was considered a betrayal to the gods, resulting in immediate damnation. If she killed herself, she would truly never see her family again.
The light breeze had picked up considerably, blowing her hair around haphazardly. Ahneta swatted her hair away, only for it to attack her face again. Irritated, she wiped her face with her hands. The gods' ring, being too large for her finger, gradually spun around so that the stone was on the wrong side of her finger. Still trying to remove her hair from her face, Ahneta felt the stone press against her forehead.
There was a barely audible click, and a strange, increasingly painful ache filled her body. It became practically unbearable, as though her bones were being twisted and pulled and mashed into a whole new form. A corner of Ahneta's brain not fixated on the pain registered a blinding flash just before the pain began to fade.
When she finally came to her senses, Ahneta was laying on her side, feeling incredibly strange. The previously bright colors of the sunny day had faded, filling her vision with mostly grays and only hints of other colors. She blinked repeatedly, to no avail. When she tried to sit up, a shocking sight awaited her.
Ahneta moved what should have been her right arm, watching as her right foreleg, covered in pale fur and dark stripes, moved accordingly. She twisted around to lie on her stomach, slowly getting to her four feet.
I'm ... Am I a tiger? Is this some kind of sick joke? she wondered as she gaped at her tail, which bore a band-like version of her ring without the onyx.
It was those gods; she had no doubt about it. She accidentally pushes the stone in the ring they give her, and they turn her into a tiger. What for? Ahneta had no idea. All she knew was that if she ever got ahold of those gods they were going to wish they had never come to her for help.
Are you all so hopelessly bored that you have nothing else to do but make my existence as difficult as possible? she demanded of them, but all that came out was a strangled roar-like noise. She fought with her new mouth and tongue, struggling to emit some kind of human sound. In the end all she could manage was a sigh.
Ahneta surveyed the area, which was the same as before, and once again noticed the strange way colors appeared. She decided that strange colors were the least of her problems when she heard the sound of twigs crunching under a boot.
Excerpted from After The End by Haley Nicole. Copyright © 2013 by Haley Nicole. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE A Nightmare Ends.................... ix
A Memory.................... xv
CHAPTER 1 Only the Beginning.................... 1
CHAPTER 2 Confidences Sought and Gained.................... 17
CHAPTER 3 Holy Associations.................... 29
CHAPTER 4 Futures Lost.................... 41
A Memory.................... 45
CHAPTER 5 Leading the Blind.................... 49
CHAPTER 6 Pasts Revisited.................... 65
A Memory.................... 83
CHAPTER 7 Royal Affairs.................... 87
CHAPTER 8 A Tiger in the Room.................... 113
CHAPTER 9 The Origin of Darkness.................... 133
CHAPTER 10 Revelation.................... 149
CHAPTER 11 Something Like "The End".................... 153
EPILOGUE Another End; A New Beginning.................... 157