Stuck in the Dark Realm, teen-turned-archangel Gabriel Adam must remember who he was in the world. A familiar face guides him through an apocalyptic landscape, the only way home, but a relentless destructive force hunts them.
Meanwhile, on the Earth Realm, the horrific effects of the converging dimensions consume reality, encouraged by the machinations of the demon Mastema. Facing impossible odds without their two fellow archangels, Micah and Afarôt race to stop an inevitable doom.
In this harrowing conclusion to The Revelation Saga, worlds collide as Gabriel seeks inner strength to conquer the darkness threatening to tear the worldand his humanityapart.
|Publisher:||Medallion Media Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
S. L. Duncan writes young adult novels inspired by his travels around the world and the characters he’s met. He’s interested in finding those unique connections between stories and places, people and circumstance. He is the author of the critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy The Revelation Saga.
Read an Excerpt
The Evolution of Gabriel Adam
By S. L. Duncan
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2016 S. L. Duncan
All rights reserved.
Uriel woke on the earthen floor of the tent, the course ground uneven as the rest of the cragged land in this forsaken corner of creation. A small insect scurried past the tanned ox-hide mat that had offered little comfort during the night.
The insect's journey looked daunting, not unlike the one that had led them here, taking the tiny creature across dried-up lakes of spilled wine and over pebbles that must have seemed like boulders as it scurried toward the light of morning now slipping through the loosely sewn seams of canvas walls.
Uriel pushed away the long, dirty, black hair curling into his eyes and crushed the bug with his fist. "The light is not for you," he grumbled and flicked its remains away. He rolled onto his back. The blood rushed away from the pounding in the front of his skull.
The smell of corked wine hung in the air, but he was fairly certain he was the origin of the vinegar stench. His own vulgar smell and the leagues of roads traveled lay over him like a blanket, and the concessions he'd make to his morality drifted through his mind for what he'd pay in receipt of a bath and some scented oils.
Weariness from his own journey had settled into his bones along with the bitter chill of this inhospitable land's morning air. Small specks of dust glittered in the rays of light slipping through the canvas, scattering through the air like the thoughts racing in his mind. Doubts buried beneath his faith in the mission rose and fell with every breath.
There was nothing left to gain from seeing this through. At least, not for him.
Everything that mattered, he'd already lost.
Above, hanging from one of the tent supports, a small drawing on an opened silver locket reflected a beam of sunlight, shimmering; his own morning star. It had been the last thing he'd seen before falling asleep. The woman in the drawing had long, dark hair that matched her brown eyes. Her skin wore the favor of the summer and was equally warm to the touch as he recalled.
He remembered her smile, her smell, and her sharp wit. And he missed them all desperately.
Uriel took the locket down and shut it, squeezing it, holding the cold metal tightly against his chest before he tucked it safely into his armor, which he still wore from the day before.
Outside the tent, swift footsteps on the rocky path and the slap of a short sword's steel against leather armor met the ruffling cloth doorway.
A runner. There is news.
A boy cleared his throat, announcing his presence. "Sire?"
"You may enter."
As the boy pulled open the canvas, the water skin, filled with whatever remained from last evening's wine, tipped over, spilling its contents onto the dirt to a chorus of curses from Uriel.
"Apologies, sire," the boy begged. His expression gave away his distaste for the shambled state of the tent. The boy still had much to learn about the game of politics and the art of revealing little. Uriel figured he would not last long with such carelessness.
The curtain drew back to a wash of bright light, and the boy stepped in a fraction to offer his hand. He was pretty in the face, as the runners usually were. Perhaps he will last longer than I give him credit for, Uriel thought.
"Alexander has summoned you. The Healer has returned, and he is with him now."
Uriel rolled to his knees and pulled himself up, using his sword like a cane to steady himself. The damn wine, he thought. He stumbled through the open curtain while the runner held it back, standing aside to offer plenty of space to pass.
A morning fog had settled over the twenty tents that cradled a ledge cut away from the mountain, their individual structures camouflaged in the nooks of the large stones and crevices and overhangs that lined the terrain. He admired the use of this military strategy of stealth — one he'd taught as a useful defense necessary to keep their presence a secret when venturing this far from the rest of the army.
This far into enemy territory.
"When did Afarôt arrive?" Uriel asked.
The boy looked toward the neighboring hill, to a cave where Alexander had made his accommodations. "He arrived during the night, sire."
"He feels the presence of the weapon. The power, it has begun to affect him greatly, sire."
Uriel cleared his throat and unhooked the boy's personal ration that hung over his shoulder in the sheep bladder. He rinsed his mouth with a swig of wine and spit it onto the spillage soaking into the ground inside the tent. "Then we are close, just as I foretold."
The runner led the way, descending into the gully and then up the rocky terrain to a curtain hanging in front of the cave. An ornate series of four unique symbols had been embroidered into the material in gold thread, each one representing an individual archangel.
Uriel's gaze lingered on one in particular — matching the one he kept hidden on the back of his neck, beneath his long hair — before the runner held back the curtain and invited entrance.
The interior of Alexander's tent looked ready for a quick move and yet, somehow, remained intricate and complex, designed by the artist warriors he kept in his company. Uriel admired the beauty of these treasures of necessity and their opulence. Everything had a purpose. Fifty candles' light reflected in the golden armor hanging near the cave wall. In wealth, there is means, and in means, there is power, he thought, reminding himself of the reasons he tolerated the whims of this manic king. Drawing him into Uriel's machinations had not been difficult as he was reminded of another truth.
Those who have power seek greater power.
Neat stacks of shining weapons, sundries, and supplies were strung together in packs just big enough to be hastily moved by one man. The atmosphere inside seemed polluted by a nervous energy. Guards looked at Uriel with wild eyes as he passed, moving deeper into the cave. They looked frightened.
Uriel noted their unspoken concern. An anxious soldier is capable of many things. Including mutiny. No matter how loyal they were to their leader, losing faith in his leadership would be tantamount to disaster. Alexander had employed his best for this secret mission. But the best soldiers were always ambitious, and ambition in the ranks can be as bad as any festering sickness.
His back tightened at the sight of the stuffed mattress and silk sheets, the night's unrest still stiff in his muscles.
Afarôt sat on the floor by the bed, tending to the king and leaned into the torchlight. He nodded, acknowledging Uriel. Alexander writhed beneath the sheets, ill, shirtless, with sweat dripping from his brow as he moaned. On his finger glistened a gold ring, the pentalpha engraved on the jewel glimmering in the light.
"Sire," Uriel said and bowed.
Afarôt wiped his king's sweat from his hands, stood, and approached. "His body is failing faster than I can keep up," he whispered. "The ring's power is very strong here. Too strong. There is only so much I can do. His men are beginning to suspect witchcraft."
"It is a sign," Uriel said. "I can now feel it as well. Surely, I am not alone."
"You are not," Afarôt whispered.
"Then we must make haste."
Afarôt nodded and returned to Alexander's side. With a sharp order, Afarôt dismissed from the cave all but the king's closest guard and the runner. He slipped his hands under the bedding, to Alexander's chest.
Uriel watched as traces of warm, white light bled through the sheets. He turned, making certain no prying eyes were upon them, and approached the bed.
"Sire?" he asked. Alexander roused, agitated and breathing heavily. His blond hair, darkened by the sweat, lay wet against his head. "We feel the weapon is nearly at hand. If we may only find it, the Persians will not stand a chance against your might. All we lack is the final piece, the final clue as to where it is hidden, and through your strength, we may find it yet. Is the ring telling you anything?"
Alexander sat up, wild-eyed, looking both determined and frightened, the beads of moisture from his brow trickling into his open eyes, unnoticed. An inflamed, feverish infection gripped his ring-bearing finger, though with his convulsive hand gestures, it seemed not to bother him.
His fingers moved strangely, curling and straightening, making odd symbols. Alexander shook his head, frowning, his eyes moving across the sheets as if he were reading from a book.
He stood, naked, throwing off the assistance offered by his guards. The runner offered the king his clothes, nodding for him to take the garb. Alexander seemed confused but relented and snatched them from the boy's hand. He began to put on the silk garments and random pieces of armor as he approached, his jerking body language betraying the madness boiling beneath the surface. "Does the ring tell me anything, you ask?" He smiled, crazed and focused. "It tells me all." Alexander turned to the exit and led them through the tent.
Uriel exchanged a worried glance with Afarôt. Together, they followed their commander down the hill, his small platoon falling into rank and flanking their movement, their camp already packed for the move.
"He does not have much longer before he is taken by the madness. We are so close. All this time, all these many lifetimes searching for this, and yet I feel as though the gateway is just beyond our reach. I still cannot believe it: a gateway to the Light Realm. Once we find it, how do you know it will work?" Afarôt asked Uriel, his voice low so that others could not hear.
"You'll simply have to trust me, old friend," Uriel said. "If you want to leave this realm, this is the only way. Without a connection to bridge the realms, only a great source of energy can open the gate. The ring will work. I know it. But we must hurry. This breach will not be hidden from Enoch for long. I do not trust the Steward. He has been among the darkness of this world too long. And he has watched it root deep in this realm and yet, done nothing. If he has been corrupted, and if he has grown powerful enough, the path of the gateway could be used to allow Mastema's realm to flood this world."
Afarôt shook his head. "He has spent more lifetimes than I can remember sewing seams shut that have pulled apart to the Dark Realm. If he has not succumbed to such opportunity, I am not convinced he would do so now."
"Your faith in people is a weakness, my friend."
"I am still uncertain as to why it is hidden from him at all. It is as if he cannot sense the portals that open to the light. Or that he is less sensitive to them. Not that it matters now," Afarôt said, and they walked behind Alexander for a moment in silence. "Can I not convince you to come back with me? She has been gone for many ages now."
"I know," Uriel said. His gaze rose to the gray sky. "But I have grown fond of this place and its potential. Perhaps I will love again."
"This decision is folly. What you seek is not meant for us. Have you learned nothing during this exile? Have you learned nothing from the mistakes made by Mastema?"
Uriel's hand sought the locket through the folds of his armor. "Love is the greatest power in the universe, my friend. And I am beholden to that power. That is the only explanation I can offer."
"And what will become of the ring? It will kill Alexander." Afarôt's voice quieted again as they entered a ravine that cut into the mountain ahead. Tall, rock walls flanked them as they descended.
"The damage cannot be undone," Uriel said. "Without you as its guardian, the ring will be unable to choose another heir. Its legacy will be but a tale forgotten by time."
The platoon ahead stopped, and the shuffle of their crunching boots echoed up the walls as they came to attention at what looked like a dead end on the path.
"Water cut through this rock long ago to make this ravine," Uriel said, his hand making liquidlike gestures until meeting the end. "But flowing water does not simply stop like this."
"Unless it was not water that formed this ravine," Afarôt said.
"Here," Alexander called out from the front, his voice hoarse and weak. "It is here. By the gods, it is here."
"The energy is so strong," Afarôt whispered, the joy glistening in his eyes. "Will our power be enough to open a portal?"
"With the ring, yes," Uriel said.
Alexander staggered and turned, his face contorted. Uriel could see fear grip him as his body shook and then seized, his eyes wide as if he'd been struck by a blinding pain. Alexander screamed, his mouth foaming, and fell to the ground.
Afarôt rushed to his side, but Uriel focused on the smooth boulder ahead. A hairline crack drew in the rock from the ground to the sky. As he neared, a faded symbol appeared. There were four individual carvings, each recognizable.
Uriel raised a palm, and a stream of bluish-white energy erupted toward the rock containing the sliver of light, careful not to inject his power into the gateway itself.
Destroy the vessel, he thought. And the way will shut.
Soldiers screamed, one of them accusing Uriel of being a demon.
Rock broke away and evaporated in the energy, the ground quaking as if whatever was hidden behind the symbol was trying to shake off the focused energy. Uriel dropped his hand, and the boulder split, breaking away. Part of the rock wall sheared away from the cliff and fell.
Afarôt pulled Alexander from the danger before they were both crushed. "Stop!"
A blinding light bloomed from beneath the rubble as rock lifted away, floating in defiance of gravity. Uriel threw more energy at the wall, the ground trembling as the beam made impact and cut deeper into the mountain. The light in the portal wavered, unable to defend itself.
"What are you doing?" Afarôt shouted over the roar. He crawled over Alexander to stop Uriel. "The gateway is the only path back to our realm. There is no other. You'll destroy it. We'll be trapped here forever."
"I know. I'm sorry." Uriel dug his foot into the earth and braced himself before he turned his energy on Afarôt. Their energies collided and fed off of the ring on Alexander's hand. The king screamed as the jewel opened to the power being absorbed, becoming a flame doused in oil. One archangel's energy being used against another's caused a violent polar reaction, the ring becoming a white-hot star about to explode.
The rush of power pulled into the pentalpha-engraved jewel until it could no longer hold. The ground shook again, followed by a deafening silence. With a violent, bright shattering, the ring let go. A shock wave rolled out, propelling the bodies of soldiers and Alexander against the rock wall, crushing bone and skull.
Afarôt lay among the dead Macedonians. A shallow breath pushed dust away from his lips. Uriel was thankful to see him alive. Broken spears and shields were splintered upon the blood-soaked rocks.
The light from the crack in the mountain had darkened, nearly extinguished.
Uriel picked himself up from the ground, dizzy, his body weakened from the assault of power as his senses recovered from the blast. Even with half a moment to brace for the reaction, the force of the blast had been too much to absorb.
Again, he focused his power on the gateway. The sliver of light slowly faded as he poured more into the rock that held the portal, straining to give all that he could, determined to finish what he'd started.
The broken chalice will hold no wine.
"None shall poison this realm again. Not with the light and not with the dark," Uriel said, feeling the last of his strength leaving his legs until a piercing sound filled the air, and he fell to the ground.
The gateway grew brighter until the rock liquefied around the light. Struggling to maintain its existence, the light in the stone reached out to the only thing it could — the ring on Alexander's mangled arm. Energy arced from the rock face to the jewel, its luminance impossible to look at. It formed a gravity, pulling energy in, inhaling until all the light was removed from the mountain.
The jewel went dark.
Uriel again focused his energy on the wall. The scream of bending forces and cracking stone built until it filled the air with a cloud of vaporized rock. Silence fell over the ravine as the remains of the gateway shuddered and broke, collapsing into a pile of rubble.
The seal between the realms was once again restored.
Excerpted from The Evolution of Gabriel Adam by S. L. Duncan. Copyright © 2016 S. L. Duncan. Excerpted by permission of Medallion Press, Inc..
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