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Saint of ShadowsWhen the Bells Toll
By Trevor Underwood
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Trevor Underwood
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Wolf
Three men walked purposely down a long corridor paved with dark green stones. Their leather bound boots made heavy steps as they took the dampened path downward, the way lit only by a few candles lazily burning upon their stands. The glow gave the men an ominous look upon their faces, all set in grim silence while they passed through a high archway. As they approached a staircase on the other side the smaller one of the trio removed his helm, revealing blood shot eyes slowly adjusting to the darkening passage—a concerned look upon his face.
They descended quickly avoiding two other men garbed in satin red robes trailing behind them, making their way up with books in hand. Moments later the group passed through two large oak doors leading into a spacious room, the man at point acknowledging the usher greeting them at the entrance with a nod of his head. Their stride slowed almost to a halt as a voice carried over to them through the darkness.
Was all they heard. Just one word, but in a tone as calm and controlling as still water is deep.
At the sound of two hands meeting to create a single clap a light came on above. It illuminated a wide cherry wood desk, elegantly crafted by undoubtedly gifted hands. In the face of the wood was carved a portrait of angels clashed in arms above an inferno fueled by the corpses of the damned. At the end of each leg was set a copper set formed into what appeared to be the shape of a raven's talon. Upon the desk rested a pewter statuette of a sinewy hand holding a black ball point pen dripping blood red ink, patiently waiting for use.
On the opposite end laid a pile of several parchments neatly stacked and ready for review. Behind the desk was a dark black chair raised and bound in thick leather, turned so that the young men could not see who resided there.
Again the voice came forth, still as foreboding as the last time.
"What happened tonight ...?"
All three of the men fumbled for words that refused to come. They began to look around the room for answers, and then to the floor hoping one of their group would say something.
"I am growing impatient," the voice spoke, not from the chair, but behind them. The three slowly turned, the blood drained from their faces.
There before them stood a man dressed in a finely tailored suit, darker than any color either man had seen before. He wore black shoes polished to a sheen and boasted a deep red vest with a black tie resting upon his chest. A sterling clip keeping it neatly in place.
He was a lean figure with an olive skinned complexion and eyes that burned with a brown ember that showed pure contempt with the three. He was clean-shaven and his jet black hair was slicked back giving an executive look about him. Above all else though, he had a presence that demanded respect, fear.
His gaze never left them as he casually placed a hand upon the center's shoulder. He spoke slowly, with a hint of malice in his tone as he asked the question once more. Again none could muster an answer he sought.
Finally one of the wretches forced out a feeble sound that barely resembled any words.
"Come now, you are going to have to speak up," the man spoke, removing his hand from the other's shoulder. "You see, my time is quite important, and I would hate to lose any more with you ..."
The lad, now white from fear, trembled as he uttered his response.
"Th-there were several men and, and ..." At his silence his friend took over, hoping to aid his comrade.
"You see sir; they were in their hold just as we were told. We could see them preparing from the roof tops ... There ... were more than expected ... we couldn't ... I mean there were just ... too many ..."
Just as their interrogator turned to speak again he was interrupted by the doors bursting open.
A hooded man walked boldly towards the group, his dark boots leaving a trail of blood across the Persian rug.
"It is my fault they did not participate in the battle, Lucifer," he said in a confident voice as he crossed the thresh hold. "I ordered them to follow DeAngelo on the opposite side as support."
"Tis true my lord. They were with me outside the halls awaiting any that may have fled during the battle," spoke DeAngelo in a quiet tone to confirm the hooded man's report.
The new arrivals stood waiting patiently before their master. Lucifer looked to the three men cowering to the side before resting his gaze upon the cloaked figure.
"And why would you do such an act, after I specifically sent these men to kill?" At this he leered at the men, watching them squirm under his eyes.
The soldier answered with little hesitation, "We arrived to find the families meeting in the main offices down St. George Avenue as we were told. From an adjacent building we had an ideal vantage point on the roof and could see the majority of the group through a bay window. There were far more participants than we expected. Before the initial entry I can tell the men were nervous ..."
He paused a moment to glance at the three before continuing, "You cannot be upset with them, they are young and still green. They were not ready for this kind of combat, not with those numbers. So I told them to follow DeAngelo because I knew they would only be a burden."
The dark lord thought quietly for a moment before speaking to the other men, "First thing tomorrow begin training with the younger men under Payson's command. If any of you disappoint me in such a way again ... I will personally see to the consequences," he stared directly at them to emphasize his last words.
"Get out of my sights."
The men, more than willing to escape his gaze, scrambled out of the room—nearly falling over each other at the door. Lucifer raised his hand to rub his eyes as he slowly shook his head in disapproval. He then raised his sights onto the man hidden beneath the hood, and spoke in a much warmer tone.
"That rug was three hundred and sixty two years old, Matheis ..."
The dark figure surprised by his comment looked down to the carpet he stood on, noticing the stains that the blood slowly dripping from his tattered cloak had left. At this Matheis removed it in a fluid motion as Lucifer beckoned a servant standing in the corner with a wave of his hand. The help quickly took the drenched cloth from his hands and wordlessly left the room.
He was a tall, lean young man with a solid frame hardened through years of war. He wore a black sleeveless shirt, now torn and blood stained from the previous battle and had dark shaggy hair and a five o'clock shadow resting on his strong chin. With his tan complexion he blended even more into the shadows than his counterpart, DeAngelo, and had a much more serious look. Though he had a worn appearance he was none the less a handsome youth.
As the young men awaited further questions from their lord Matheis noticed his friend pulling at his blonde tufts of hair. He recognized this as DeAngelo's cope for anxiety, watching him play aimlessly with it until DeAngelo's bright green eyes found his. Slightly embarrassed he dropped his hand and turned his attention to his master.
DeAngelo was a few years older than Matheis, and a good inch or two taller. He was a very lean man with fair skin, often considered a "pretty boy" by the others. Still, he did his job when asked. That is all anyone could ask for, Matheis believed. Lucifer clapped his hands together, drawing his attention from his thoughts. Moments later the lights over head slowly lit one by one—revealing the room's true qualities.
"I find this much more comfortable, do you not agree?" Lucifer said almost to himself. "But one must keep appearances when dealing with his employees, yes?"
Employees was right, Matheis thought to himself. Many people have a misconception of Hell. To them, all it is is some fiery pit of torture and horrors, accompanied with the smell of brimstone and burning flesh in some dark recessed space in the rings of sin themselves. Truth is, there has not been such a place for centuries—at least, not openly.
After years of punishing the corrupt with eternal damnation he found that they grew too accustomed to the idea of "forever". Some even grew to enjoy their torment, changing into something almost as demented as the sins they had committed. So Lucifer, being an entrepreneur of sorts, expanded his trade into the open world. Even during his war waged against Heaven itself he found time to tempt the mortal's soul into aiding him, sometimes just to prove he could.
At times he would even result to using the demons that were born within those men who gave into their dark desires. The people so twisted in their own ways and desires that even in death could not escape the hold it had on them. It made no difference, being that there was always room for new arrivals in Hell. After all, death was his business, and he was always hiring.
Now what lay before him was an office like suite. A room riddled with statues and paintings from years and centuries long past. If anything, Hell was more like the giant corporation buildings resting outside in the city. The kind Matheis imagined that the big CEO's of Wal-Mart or stockbrokers would reside in while the more sinister side remained hidden from the people.
Lucifer paced upon the dark tiles leading to a beautifully crafted cabinet and withdrew a crystal like flask holding the amber nectar he so often enjoyed. He poured himself a small glass now resting upon the desk before returning his attention on the two men waiting patiently there.
"I trust everything went well then?" He inquired.
Matheis crossed his arms as he answered, "Yes. The additional men were of no concern."
"And the angels? Were they in attendance?"
"There were only two. Again they were of no concern. The rest had not earned their wings yet, and few even knew how to hold their weapons properly," replied the bloodied soldier.
Lucifer smiled as he took a sip of his sweet smelling drink. "Indeed," he spoke turning to DeAngelo, "And you, how did you fare?"
"I did not even have a chance to fight, my lord. Matheis's blade was far too swift," DeAngelo replied joining the conversation.
The devil looked pleased by the news, taking another taste of the nectar. "So none were able to slip past then?"
DeAngelo shook his head with his response, "One was able to escape and break for freedom ..."
"And you were able to reprehend this man, I trust?" The lord asked as he swirled his glass, watching the contents spin aimlessly.
The blonde headed youth looked to Matheis before answering in a solemn tone, "None can escape The Wolf, sire ..."
"Quite true ..." He whispered as his gaze lingered upon Matheis. "I'm just glad that he didn't have his nose broken again," he added with a small smile.
DeAngelo continued as he tugged on his bangs once more, always nervous when Satan joked.
"Afterwards we came across a charter with the locations of a few more Halos living in the city." At this he removed a parchment yellowed from age tucked with in his jacket, handing it to Lucifer.
"Excellent," he responded as he unfolded the charter. "Very well done boys, it even has that damned Percesus here ..."
The men waited while their master read over the list once more. The godfather clock on the back wall rang marking the time of five in the morning. Lucifer turned as he sat upon his desk, glancing at the time. He faced the men once more placing the parchment aside, "DeAngelo."
Perking up at the sound of his name he answered, "Yes, my lord?"
"It is late, you are dismissed."
DeAngelo hesitated for a moment before he turned to exit the room, Lucifer's voice stopping him as he drew near the door.
"You did well tonight DeAngelo, keep this up and you may find your bell ringing soon ..."
With a wide smile spread across his face DeAngelo left the room with a new spring in his step. After his footsteps were out of earshot Lucifer stood and watched Matheis stand there at attention. He walked over and placed his hands upon his shoulders, gazing into his hardened eyes. Lucifer saw thoughts and memories beyond the young man's years behind those eyes.
"What is on your mind, child?" He asked.
Matheis answered with a stoic expression on his face, "Just the next mission, sir. The list is a valuable asset in this-"
"The charter can wait," Lucifer interrupted. "You wonder why I have not granted you your wings, do you not, Matheis?" He removed his hands and began to slowly walk to the windows at the end of his office.
Matheis could not help but notice his reflection as he passed a strange mirror with a bronze finished frame. Though Lucifer was finely dressed in his Italian suit, his reflection was nothing more than a blinding light. Behind this odd image walked Lucifer with the faint outline of jet black wings, like that of a raven's.
He stopped feet away from the windows, beckoning Matheis forth with a nod of his head. As he approached the same mirror he saw himself standing before many other men staring back with mournful eyes. All of which were consumed by blood and fire—but just as the reflection had revealed itself it was gone, vanished within a blink of an eye.
"It reveals your greatest sins," Satan spoke noticing the man's curious look. He waited for Matheis to reach his side before continuing,
"... And the souls greatest burdens."
He then looked into the glass, saddened by the thought.
"You and I are alike in this way, Matheis. Our sins rest heavily on our souls ... forever burdened by the means we justified for our mission. Prisoners held captive within our own memories ..." He looked to the worn man at his side, lost in thought for a period of time.
Lucifer then paced to the side sipping his drink as he paused in front of a glass case framed in a dark stained wood. A sword beautifully crafted was on display, its broad edge polished to a perfect sheen as it caught the light.
Matheis had seen the blade before, often impressed by how well the weapon was crafted. Its skillfully carved handle had an incredibly detailed design carved into the gold that the soldier knew must have taken many days, if not weeks, to complete.
Though the sword seemed to be as good as any blade forged today the angel could not help but feel as if the blade was many years old. Never one to really talk about the sword Matheis merely assumed it was Lucifer's own at some point, noting the solemn look he often had gazing at it.
The dark lord placed his now empty glass upon a tray held by a servant coming forth to collect it, peering out the windows and drawing Matheis's attention to the empty halls below. Silently both men stood there as the faint hum from a far off cooling vent could be heard.
After some time Satan finally spoke again, "I don't feel it's time."
"For you to have your wings," he continued. "You have served me well, Matheis; incredibly so, as a matter of fact. I can always rely on you to come through in a pinch."
"You show great promise, child. You are faster, more powerful than the others. You have a natural gift to war and an intelligence to match ... but temper it with understanding. Which is exactly why I want to wait, Matheis ... I want your gifts to grow, become even better. Then just imagine the power you would posses once that bell rings ..."
Once Matheis knew his master had finished he replied with a short bow, "Your will is my bidding, my lord. If this is what you wish, then I shall respect your decision."
Lucifer smiled while he stood there watching a few men proceed down the corridor below. He looked at his watch and then turned to the godfather clock confirming the time before looking to Matheis and nodding his approval.
"It is nearly six," he stated, checking his watch for a second time.
"Go. Get cleaned up and rest Matheis, you have earned it. Later this day I have a conference with a few lawyers about expanding some stock in certain corporations I would like to buy—you are welcomed to join if you see fit to it."
"Thank you, sir. But to be honest, such business holds little interest with me," Matheis responded.
Lucifer allowed himself a slight laugh as he answered, "It can be quite taxing, I must admit. But it is business, and I believe it could not hurt for you to get a taste of such lives. It will be a good learning experience if anything."
The young man thought for a moment before nodding his consent to the offer.
"Excellent. I will call for you once it is time to meet. As for now, it is time for you to wash and get some sleep, oh, and Matheis?"
The soldier looked up at his master with his undivided attention before Lucifer went on, " ... I suggest you shave before attending. It is a business meeting after all."
At this Satan patted the man's shoulder fondly and turned his gaze back to the windows. Matheis took this as his dismissal and quietly exited the vast room, nodding to the servant at the door.
Winding his way down the deserted corridor he came to a steel door that he took leading into the main complex. Unlike the previous chamber this area was well lit and very clean. Matheis walked to the rails along the walkway, peering down to the floor below where the offices were.
A fountain rested firmly in the center of these halls, with water tinted gold flowing freely into a deep pool. Two angels of granite stood upon a platform within the fountain. One angel, kneeling as it reached a stone hand for the water, its other held on tightly to the second angel as it out reached its own hand towards the sky, as if reaching for the Heavens.
Excerpted from Saint of Shadows by Trevor Underwood Copyright © 2012 by Trevor Underwood. 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
Contents1 The Wolf....................1
2 The Family Biz....................17
3 Second Thoughts....................31
4 A Loss in the Family....................49
5 Renegade Angel....................69
6 The Silent Toll....................85
7 Due Notice....................97
8 A Higher Calling....................109
10 Getting Started....................145
11 The Informant....................165
12 Saint Jerome....................183
13 Jolly Roger....................199
14 Home Sweet Home....................223
14 A Long Road Ahead....................245
15 Change of Scenery....................277
16 Nothing to Fear....................287
17 But Fear Itself....................305
18 On Edge....................335
19 Second Chances....................363
21 The Russian....................401
22 When The Bells Toll....................417
23 Saint of Shadows....................439
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really liked the scenes this author made, it was engrossing and the descriptions rival almost Dante himself. The story was a good mix between action and mystery, which was good for me since I tend to read along the lines of millitary thrillers and it was like watching a movie play out in my head. A very good read
Fantastic. This book was incredibly detailed and the story actually took me by surprise with how Underwood connected the story so well. Each character had a persona and almost a life to themselves that made the story that much more captivating and bringing a very real, very dark feel to the book. Though I liked all the characters, the main one, Matheis, really won me over with his almost anti-hero attitude that I love to see. Underwood truly takes an old concept and twists it into a light that I enjoyed thoroughly, breaking down the traditions I have seen mold into our stories lately. But besides the incredible story line was, as I said, Matheis himself. He very much has a Batman-esque personality but with a much more grim outlook on the world, while still sharing the complexity and thought process I always liked in such stories. It really was a fresh insight on the inner workings of a "Hero" that has issues- just like everyday people. And is a nice reflection of what someone like that would really be going through.That said, I wish there was more to the story, being that I feel there will be more to come with Matheis and I look forward to seeing it. Not only do I highly suggest this book, but I myself am an English teacher and have recommended this book to all of my classes, This kid has a great imagination that almost puts you in the pain and a flare for writing! A new favorite without a doubt.
This book was amazing! i loved the way he wrote it and could not put it down. It will really draw you in and keep you attached to the character throughout the whole story, I even caught myself crying as I read parts with Matheis. This is definitely a must read
Besides the need of an editor, the book was exceptional with very few gaps. There were no points in which I was thinking "wait, how did that happen". The story line was exceptional and quite the novel experience for me. Generally one would expect this type of book to follow the traditional story line with good and evil being set in stone as being just that; good and evil. Mr. Underwood does an amazing job writing a story in which the "good" and "evil" sides are seen as attempting to do good while using different methods, thus causing them to be seen as either "good" or "evil". While the ending is kind of a factory mold ending that you see from a mile away, the story to get there was exceptional; drawing readers in and holding their attention with his exceptional writing style as well as the depth he goes into with character creation and execution. Not only are the characters in the story life-like, they are also directly relatable to people you may know in your own life. All in all, this book has the best novel story-line I've read all year. Recommend this to friends (after you've read it of course).
I have to say I was a little lost at first, but the way the book brings everything together was just awesome. I haven't had a book that I was excited about for a long while until now, and definitely want more. It is like a cool twist on mystery and fantasy and had a Constantine taste to it that i really liked and the conversations between the people in the book was very well done. It kind of left off on a cliff hanger, but still just a great book and makes me want to find out more.
One of the best books I've ever read. Mr. Underwood did a great job besides some spelling errors to make this book up there with some of the major fantasy books. I would love to read more by Mr. Underwood and can't wait to read the rest of this franchise (hopefully there is a lot more coming). Thank you Mr. Underwood for making me want to read again. You are an awesome author and I cant wait to read more and hopefully one day meet you in person lol jk
I absolutely loved reading this book. At first i didn't think I was really going to get into it, but after i started reading it I couldn't put it down. I loved how he captivated you with mathias emotions and showed us his point of view. i also thought how he should everyone else's point of view in the end. over all I thought that the entire book was great! and I can not wait till the second book comes out. :)
After reading Saint of Shadows I do not understand how these reviewers are comparing this book to famous books and T.V. series such as Harry Potter, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and Batman. I do not see how in anyway shape or form this book could be compared to them, maybe I’m missing something (if so could someone please explain to me) but that does not make sense to me. Besides that the story line was not all that bad, the editing could have been much better for example the spelling on some of the main words throughout the book. A decent read.
Absolutely loved this book! I thought the story line was phenomenal and loved the decriptive writing style. It got very in depth with the character Matheis keeping me more interested as the pages went on creating a very intriguing picture of this man. One thing I really loved though was the way Matheis was shown as a compassionate person, but also had moments where he could lash out leaving me guessing what would happen or why. All in all this was a very different, but good book.
Finished this book about a week ago and plan to read it again, this book was great. It had a awesome flow and the action thrown inbetween the story was just amazing. I would say get this book before it becomes a movie, because the story is that good and the fight scenes are intense. I even lent it to my little nephew and he is nose deep into it. P.S. Does anyone know if Trevor Underwood has written more? I found the facebook but couldn't see anything but I really like his work
his book turned out amazing i was there to see the starting product and couldnt wait to see the end result, but the wait was well worth it. hopefully the sequel is even better, i cant imagine it not being
I got this book on Nook and must say I was impressed practically from chapter one. It was a little gruff at times but absolutely made up for it with its illustrative writing style and story line. Plus i must add that it's griity take on things was very refreshing to the more recent series of books out there and brings many different point of views to the table. Two thumbs up without question.
I was recommended this book by a friend and am glad I was! It was different then what I had expected but was pleased by the way it pulled me into the story. It also got me into it because of how relatable the people in the book were to me, and I can't wait for the next one. It may be my new Twilight :)
Love it! The book was very interesting and the characters were amazing! Matheis the wolf was amazingly created, keeping a dark but heart felt person and I really liked the inner thoughts that the book had for him. He really reminded me of my favorite character Damon from the vampire diaries (I know even though these aren't vampires) because of the bad/good guy part he has in everything. The book also left some open ends that make me excited to see the rest because I borrowed this book from my friend (Who also loved it) but am getting my own copy today. I say definitely see this book!