Kyle Ross has been having the same dream every night for a month. A dream of war between the light and the underworld. A dream of blood. A dream of death.
Last night, the dream came to an end. Finally, his mind can be at ease and he can focus on what’s important in his life: school, girls and his upcoming birthday. But when the dreams return, even more ominous and vivid than before, he is suddenly cast into a hidden world of darkness.
Now things are going crazy. A demonic messenger of war has appeared in the city, stirring up trouble. Kyle’s family secrets are being shoved in his face. And he, like the world around him, may be even more than what he seems.
Will Kyle be torn apart by the rising darkness, or will he manage to find himself and save everyone he loves from the impending storm.
About the Author
During the school year, his mother would push him to reach higher levels of academia. When he wasn't doing school work, Lonnie was filling the pages of notebooks with fantastical stories. Over time, with his mother's motivation and his father's inspiration Lonnie graduated top of his high school class and went on to receive his Bachelor's degree from Ohio University (OU? Oh yeah). Although his degree is not in literature, he never lost the passion for storytelling or the love for creating a world outside of the one we know.
Even as a man, Lonnie has never lost that child-like love for story telling or letting his imagination run wild on paper. Through his works, Lonnie hopes to paint a vivid picture with words of the worlds that occupy his imagination.
Read an Excerpt
As the brilliant light of the sun vanishes behind the distant horizon, the world around me falls to darkness, and I fall along with it. Deeper and deeper I fall, unable to see as I am shrouded in a cloak of blood and blinded by the most primal of feelings: fear. My descent comes to a bloody halt, and finally, I can see again. But as I look upon myself, I am disgusted at what I see. There is nothing left, just the misshapen form of what I used to be. No longer am I an innocent child radiating hope, but a messenger of death. A wraith. A shadow.
* * *
I AWAKE with a gasp, gripping my pillow, and drenched in sweat. With a deep breath, I roll over onto my back and stare into the infinite darkness of my room. My mind runs wild with the images of that godforsaken dream. Every night it's the same thing. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes, a knock on the door disrupts the solace I find in the silence of my room.
"General Kross?" He knocks harder. "General Kross, sir."
I push away the silken sheets, sit upon the side of my bed, and look toward the hard pinewood door the visitor is standing behind. "It's Shadow to you, human. Now, why do you disturb me?"
"F-forgive me sir, you have been summoned by Lord Beal. You are to report to the war room for a mission briefing, immediately ... sir?"
I rake the hair from out of my face. "I get it. Now leave me."
"S-sorry sir, but I am to escort you to the meeting — direct orders," he says shakily. The fear in his voice is well placed. Talking back to a general, even on orders, would normally get you killed.
With a sigh, I stand and stretch. "Pyros," I say, filling the word with my will and energy. A lone flame flickers to life in the darkness. Then, all at once, flames burst into existence atop the other candles spread throughout my quarters. The room itself is decently big and furnished with cedar dÃ(c)cor. Way better than the dirt box I was in when I first got here.
I make my way across the room to the vanity. At its center sits a commemorative vase, depicting the general who preceded me. Slowly, I push it from the table and watch it as falls to the floor. The sound of it shattering to a million pieces is like music to my ears.
I gaze into the mirror that hangs on the wall above the vanity. My reddish-brown eyes are tired, with bags underneath due to my lack of sleep; my hair is speckled with gray, my face, worn and old. I feel as old as I look. Stretching, the scars from my battles become prominent in the candlelight, casting shadows across my brown skin. I touch one, just left of my heart. The smell of burning flesh fills my nose, and the sound of screams echo through my mind. The crackling from one of the candles interrupts the memory. With a deep breath, I calm myself, pushing it all to the back of my mind. There's movement in the mirror behind me. The vase is back on the table, back in one piece. At least I get to break it again before I depart.
I don a fine black shirt and pants made from the fur of an iron blasé, a wolf-like creature that resides in the Underworld. It is as soft as the finest silks some humans wear, but so strong it functions as light armor. It has saved my life many times. I open the door and step out. The human messes with his wool tunic before noticing me, then stands at attention, stiff as a board.
"At ease." At my order, he relaxes, sighing in relief. "Now, let's go." We walk down the stone corridor. Busts of rulers from all over New Birth or Earth — — as the humans call it — — sit in coves along the wall. These men were great rulers, known for leading their people out of the darkness New Birth had to offer. If humanity already had such rulers in the world, why were so many of them willing to help us in our efforts to conquer it?
"What's on your mind, General Shadow?" the human asks, looking back at me.
"Tell me, why do you serve the army?" I ask, looking at one of the busts.
"I serve because the world is filled with the filth of the light," he explains, his tone serious.
"Why do you think that demon rule will be any different than that of human kings of the past?"
"The kings of old were just stupid humans following the influence of the light — puppets on the strings of faith, killing all those who were deemed sinners, even if they were truly innocent. But demons ... demons know of the darkness and all that the universe has to offer. With their knowledge, we, the fallen, can finally reach salvation."
There is such conviction, such confidence in his words. I would believe him, had I not heard those exact words from the mouth of another — the high general of the demon army, our lord and master, Beal. He had delivered that same speech to the humans when we first appeared before their ancestors so long ago. His influence over them is astonishing. The things he can make them do with just a whisper ...
We reach the end of the corridor. A flight of stone steps lead up to a wooden door. The human runs up them and opens it, allowing the sun to shine in. "After you, sir."
Making my way up the steps, I move past him and through the doorway. I shield my eyes, and when they finally adjust, I see the headquarters of the demon army here on New Birth — the city of Sodom. The heat from warm stone under my feet vitalizes me. I always forget how cold it is in my room. It's busy as usual. Soldiers, humans and demons alike attend to their daily duties, from cleaning to babysitting the children who play in the streets. At first glance, it's a nice scene — people working together, children playing — but there is a bitterness to it. All who reside here are those that have been cast aside and shunned by the world ... and the light.
Deeper into the city we walk, until we reach a small, broken building at the city's core. I enter, and my human escort stops at the threshold. "Sir, may I ask, why is it that demons visit this place so often? There's nothing here."
"By your command," he says with a bow and leaves.
It doesn't surprise me how little the human mind can comprehend, nor how they so blatantly lie to themselves. They will never be able to see the world they live in for what it truly is.
I look throughout the room. It's filled with garbage: sheets, broken tables, and chairs. What I seek is beyond the façade. I seek the truths concealed behind the veil. As I approach the back wall, a small door shimmers into being, pulsing with an intense energy that would have surely driven the human mad. A sigil the length of my arm, in the shape of a serpent appears in the center of the door. Only those with the same sigil engraved into their very souls may enter.
I place my right palm on the door. "Before you I stand, key in hand. I command you ... open."
The sigil flares to life, glowing green. In an instant, the green light dies out, and the door vanishes like smoke in the wind, leaving an empty doorframe. I enter the dark void beyond and soon exit an identical doorway. A single guard in black robes stands waiting, her sword drawn.
Her eyes grow wide when she notices me. "General Shadow, we've been expecting you," she says, lowering her blade. I nod and keep moving. Beal hates to be kept waiting.
I stroll through the catacombs — miles upon miles of stone and mud walls, overflowing with the bones of humans who have died in this city. In this time of war, it is a perfect place for the general's war room. I come upon a set of large double doors made of bleached human bones and knock.
"Enter," a voice orders.
The doors open on their own. As I walk through, sunlight shines through the enchanted ceiling. The gray stone walls of the room are covered by bookcases, chains, unlit torches, and what I think is dried blood; this place was once a dungeon, used as a torture room of some kind. In the middle of the room is a circular table with five chairs situated around it, and at its head sits Lord Beal, looking at a three-dimensional map of the land under our rule.
"You summoned me?" I ask as the doors close behind me.
He looks up from the map. His pale skin glows with an ethereal luster. The bright smile that spreads across his slender face rivals the sunshine that fills the room. I hate it, how beautiful he is. "Ah yes, General Kross ... I mean Shadow. How are you this fine morning?"
I cross my arms and lean against the table. "I was doing fine before your little wake-up call."
He chuckles, reminding me of a kid who just played a prank. "Please forgive me, but I am of need of your services for a mission."
I glance around the table. I'm not used to the other three chairs being empty. "Where are the others?"
"Resting," he says, never taking his eyes off the map.
"Right." Just one of the many perks of being the lowest ranking general. Whenever a mission comes along, I am the first to be called; it happens time and time again. "What are the details of this mission?"
He moves a strand of his long, raven black hair from his face and waves his hand over the map. A white point appears on the terrain. "Our scouts have informed me that there is a troop of the light's soldiers moving around the western territory, and we can't have that, now can we?" He looks from the map and up at me. "So, I want you to search them out, and when you find them ..."
I turn to leave but stop in my tracks, looking at one of the empty chairs, eyes lingering on the crest of the full moon engraved into the back of it.
"Is there a problem?" General Beal asks, noticing my pause.
I look back to him. "Why send me? Why not send Bane? Being a wolf demon gives him a better advantage in tracking this troop."
He sets his jaw and glares at me with crimson eyes. "Do not question my decisions, boy." His voice is harsh and charged with silent power. "You were chosen to be general by Ra-Terin, and though I respect his decision, you must still prove yourself to me. If you return alive, then maybe I'll recognize you as a general."
"If you return alive ..." I've heard the same thing for three dytics — two hundred and forty long human years — and every time I return, he still treats me the same ... like fodder. "When do I leave?"
"Immediately." He waves me on. "Oh, and Kross," he says as I reach the door, "do not fail me."
Outside the war room, a couple of deep breaths dull my anger. He sure can work my nerves. I make my way through the catacombs and toward the western gate. I stop to look up at the sky and exhale, then scream as I stomp the ground, surely cracking it. He really knows just how to get under my skin.
Footsteps approach and I look up, finding a young warrior from my battalion standing before me. Breathing hard, he fixes his tunic and wipes the sweat from his dark skin. He and his friend make it their mission to pester me at least once a day. They can be bit irritating, but their daily annoyance is welcome today.
"General Shadow, sir, may I have a word?" he asks, saluting.
"I'm on my way out on a mission, so walk and talk."
We walk for a minute before he takes a deep breath. His deep-brown eyes steel as he opens his mouth. "Sir, I wanted to ask a favor of you."
"And this favor would be?"
"Well, since I've been a part of your battalion, I've met a girl, and we've fallen madly in love," he explains, unable to the wipe the grin from his face. "We were wondering if you would wed us?" His voice rises as he asks.
"To wed is a human tradition. Why not soul bond? Is she a Hellspawn?"
"No, sir. She is a pure-blood like us, but she was born and raised among the humans." He rubs his shaven scalp.
"Why choose me? Why not Dusk, Masani or even Beal? They're all higher-ranking generals than I."
"Permission to speak freely, sir?" he asks, looking around. I grant him permission with a nod. "Well sir, there is something about you."
I chuckle. "Elaborate."
To prevent being overheard, he moves closer. "Well, no disrespect to the other generals, but they are monsters." This is true. "But you, sir ... you just don't give off that feeling. It's as if you are lost in the darkness of this war, like many of us. It's for this reason that I, and many others, respect you and are willing to follow you, no matter what." He fidgets.
"Is there more?"
"Sir, I have a feeling it will be you that brings an end to this war."
We make it to the gate. Two sentries push open the doors. "I'm grateful for the praise and flattery, but you are wrong about me. Like the others, I, too, am a monster." I look at my hands, the screams loud in the back of my mind. "I've slain thousands. And it's not I who will decide the end to this war, but soldiers like yourself and your children."
His face grows grim, but unsurprised. He clearly already knows of my past. "Sir, we can argue all day about this, but I digress. Will you marry us?" he asks once again.
This boy is persistent.
"Like I said, to marry is a human tradition, and we are not human," I say sternly. He shifts his gaze downward, defeated. I put my hand on his shoulder, making him jump. "But I've never really cared about tradition or rules. It would be my honor to wed you two when I return — if I return." His eyes light up with excitement. "Th-thank you, sir. You just made us the happiest couple in the world!"
"Go on and tell your wife-to-be."
He salutes me and then runs off.
"And tell Kir to try not to get himself killed. Those black ops girls are no joke. I should know — I trained some of them."
As he runs off, the slight joy I feel fades. I look out past the barren plains that surround Sodom and inhale the dry air, the words of my young friend replaying in my head. He is right about one thing: I am lost deep within a darkness that I will never escape, and this mission is only going to drive me deeper still.CHAPTER 2
Days pass as I walk the mountains of sand and rock. The desert winds push and pull the weeds while the sun beats down on the dry and broken land. By the Creator, I'm thirsty.
I begin to see patches of green grass and smell the light scent of water. Trees with trunks over one hundred feet high begin to appear, until I come to a full forest. The sun shines through the trees' evergreen needles. The birds sing a joyous song as they soar through the air, weaving in and out of the branches. I've not heard a bird's song in months. I almost forgot how wonderful it made the day seem. Shame I'll probably have to shed blood on such a day.
Farther into the forest, I come across footprints in semi-dried mud, leading deeper in the woods. I kneel and smell the air just above the tracks. The lingering smell of human and metal. From what I can tell, there are at least eight of them. Based on the shallowness of these prints, they are carrying light armor and supplies. As dry as the prints are, it's obvious it hasn't been too long since they came through this area. I'm sure it would only take me half a day to reach them, but to go in headfirst wouldn't be wise.
Something rustles in the trees above me. A rodent of some kind jumps from one branch to another, giving me an idea. If I stay high in the tree and get the drop on them, they won't know what hit them until it's too late. I focus my thoughts and energy around myself. Strength surges through me. My skin starts to crawl as a black mist — a manifestation of my energy — surrounds me, covering me from head to toe. It partially solidifies, becoming hard. I look at my hand. There, my energy still radiates as a black mist instead of hardening. My armor hasn't been complete in years, but it'll do.
With one jump, I take off toward the sky, soaring through the air, and land on a solid branch. Jumping from tree to tree, I head in the same direction as the footprints. I hope the forest stays this thick or I'll have to formulate another plan.
An hour later, I find them marching along. That was fast. Their tracks in the mud were more recent than I thought. They walk in a clump, their crude white-and-brass armor glistening in the sunlight. Four of them are young — baby-faced, bright-eyed, and nervous, with their hands tight on the hilts of their blades. They've never seen real battle. The rest are veterans, battle-hardened and vigilant. They will put up the real fight.
Silently, I move ahead of them and wait. I close my eyes to meditate. With every breath, I push myself into the farthest, deepest reaches of my mind and soul — far from reality, far from the lingering screams that haunt me. I see red as something warm trickles down my face. I pay it no mind, for the soldiers are now under me, in my range of attack. I jump from the branch and descend onto them, focusing my energy into my hands. The dark energy envelopes them, shifting and churning until it hardens, transforming my hands into huge claws that resonate with violent power.
As I fall, the drop of the liquid slides from my armor and hits the leading soldier on the face. He stops, wiping his cheek. A crimson substance stains the tips of his fingers. His face fills with confusion as he examines it. "What —" He looks up. His eyes grow wide as they lock onto me.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Light of Darkness"
Copyright © 2019 Lonnie Davidson.
Excerpted by permission of BHC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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