Saturday, September 02, 2017

Dark Genesis - New Epilogue!

As I bring Dark Genesis into print, I am adding an epilogue to Alyssa's story.  It's the original ending I had planned for the story, and left out because I was unsure if I was going to continue the story as a trilogy.  This new epilogue will bridge the gap between Dark Genesis and the return to the world of witches in the next Hunters of the Dark book, Dark Revelations.  It also ties up some loose threads in Dark Genesis, while, you know, leaving some more loose threads.  But I always thought that this was an appropriate ending for the book, and now it will be the official ending.

If you already have the e-book version of Dark Genesis, usually simply archiving the book on your device and redownloading it will produce the updated version.  Some devices will let you know that there's an updated version that you can download automatically.  I've also included it below, for those of you who can't wait for the new version to hit the various markets.  Enjoy, friends!

Five months later…

In the distance, Alyssa could hear the cries of men as they engaged in battle around a castle keep.  She gazed past the red tents flapping in the strong winds as crashing swords and magical blasts echoed over the hillside.
“I hear they expect to infiltrate the werewolf den by nightfall,” Parker said softly beside her.
Alyssa lifted her head slightly as his fingers lightly traced over her hip.  Smiling to herself, Alyssa slapped his hands.  “There will be plenty of time for that later,” she reprimanded him.  “We came here to see Vessa and Eric.”
“I don’t think Eric needs us,” Parker murmured.  “Seems to be doing well enough on his own.”
Alyssa turned from the sight of the battle and began walking along the tents again.  “Yes, well Lace…er, Her Majesty has sent us with a message to the frontlines, and I intend to put it directly into his hands as ordered, if you don’t mind.”
“You’re no fun when you’re all business,” Parker sighed, matching her long strides.  “But one thing is for sure, Prince Air certainly has the ability to conquer this land, as was foreseen.”
Alyssa nodded slowly.  She’d been thinking the same thing lately.  Despite the hags’ spell displacing her for their own selfish needs, they had been accurate.  Eric was a force to be reckoned with.  He had easily conquered lands previously unbreeched, belonging to all manner of monsters terrorizing the lands.  Now, they were ruled under the banners shared by Lace’s kingdom and the Vikings of the north.  A partnership unlike any before had been born of the adventures Lace had shared with Eric, not to mention Alyssa and the others.  And with the former ruling monarch’s treachery still fresh, Lace knew that she could count on Eric, where she was still trying to figure out whom she could trust in her own kingdom.  Alyssa and Parker were her trusted advisors, and Alyssa had to admit that she liked the position she’d been granted.  It wasn’t anything she’d ever imagined, but being among friends and…and Parker, as she helped to cleanse the world of monsters, to make it safe again for ordinary witches…it just felt right in the end.  And it really wasn’t all that different from being a CIA agent.  She was still information gathering, and taking down the bad guys.  The stakes were just much higher here.
Before she knew it, Parker held up a tent flap for her, and Alyssa ducked through it quickly.  The tent flap dropped behind them after a moment, and only candlelight illuminated the otherwise dark room, where Eric was pouring over several maps laid out on a table with two important-looking men and a fierce-looking woman.  Vessa stood nearby, and rushed over to them when she caught sight of them.
“Another message from her royal highness?” Vessa asked, eyebrow raised.  “Don’t you have anything more important to do than play errand boys?”
“We like the fresh air,” Parker said dryly.
Vessa snorted at that.  “He’s just finishing up now.  They’re so sure of their victory here, they’re planning the attack of the next target.”
As she finished speaking, she proved right.  The company surrounding Eric bowed to him, and quickly left the tent, not bothering with niceties or to make polite introductions to the newcomers.  Alyssa didn’t mind though.  She wasn’t here for them.
“Ah!” Eric bellowed when he saw Alyssa and Parker standing with Vessa.  “My two favorite errand boys!”
Vessa stifled a giggle, and Alyssa glared at her in good humor, mouthing “You’ll get yours” before turning a bright smile on Eric. 
“It’s wonderful to see you again, your grace,” Alyssa said, laying it on a little thick as she curtsied.
Eric waved her formality away.  “None of that now,” he said, grasping Alyssa by the arms and looking her over.  He clapped Parker on the back in a friendly manner, and Parker had to catch himself from stumbling to the floor from the strength behind the motion.  “We are all friends here,” he said.  “And we are equals, here and forever more.  Those who have done battle together as we have share a bond that will never be broken.”
“We owe you much for what you’ve done for the world in such a short span of time,” Parker said.  “It’s unbelievable how quickly you’re turning the world back over to the people.”
Eric seemed to puff out his chest a little at the praise, and then slipped an arm around Vessa’s waist.  “I couldn’t have done any of it without the fire this one lights in me.  She is so damned inspiring.”
Vessa rolled her eyes.  “They have a message for your highness.”
Eric kissed her cheek, despite her struggles, and grabbed the sealed envelope Alyssa held out to him.  “Much obliged, much obliged.”  He gestured to the tent flap.  “Shall we take a quick turn about the camp?  It gets stuffy being cooped up inside all day.  I would much rather be out on the battlefield, the spray of enemy blood staining my flesh, the sound of battle roaring in my ears.”  His grin widened.  “I always pride myself on leading the opening charge with my men, but apparently, I’m too valuable to be out on the battlefield all day long.”
Alyssa stepped back out into the fading sunlight, following Eric and Vessa.  “Yes, well, you inspire your men in all that they do,” she told him.  “Their victories are yours, just like if you’d been on the field alongside them.  This is all you.”
Eric nodded.  “Still, one feels like-“
An electric hum filled the air and Alyssa turned to see the hair standing up on Parker’s arm.  Alyssa looked down to see that she was completely unaffected.
She glanced up just in time to see a green arrow, sizzling as if alive with electricity, bury itself in Eric’s neck.
“No!” Alyssa screamed, as warm blood splattered over her face.
She rushed forward, watching in horror as Eric sagged into Vessa’s arms, who was looking at him with wide, shocked eyes.  “Eric?” Vessa called.  “Eric!?”
Soldiers closed in around them in an instant, and a cackling laugh was heard as two men wrenched an old woman from the shadows of a nearby tent.  She was smiling, proud even, of the heinous act she’d just committed.
Her eyes locked with Alyssa’s.  Blue eyes that Alyssa had once imagined as kind.  But were calculating.  Determined.  Cruel and icy.
She nodded once to Alyssa before she was whisked away, out of sight behind the bodies of dozens of men who were scrambling to make sense of the scene.
The nod had seemed to say, “And now, it is done.”
“Eric!” Vessa screamed.
Alyssa turned to see her beating on his chest, a spurt of blood weakly spraying from his neck, where the arrowhead jutted out obscenely.  The next beat of Eric’s heart sent only a trickle of blood down his flesh.
“Eric!” she screamed again.
But her voice sounded further away this time.  And no blood seemed to pump from Eric’s wound now.  The fallen man’s eyes stared her way, but were unfocused, glassy.
She turned her head to look at Parker, who was growing translucent.  “Parker?” 
The whole world was vanishing, shimmering and fading into white light, as if it were all a dream.
“Parker!” she screamed, and reached out her hand to him.  Their fingers seemed to graze for a moment, but then everything substantial faded, and became white with a flash.
Alyssa gasped for air.
And then everything was bathed in darkness.
Dark, but not completely black.
She blinked and could make out shapes in the dark.  Shades of dark grey. 
Her breathing was labored, and she became aware that she was sitting upright on soft sheets.  Had she blacked out?  Had she been seen to bed?
But she knew that wasn’t right.
A fan blew cool air, fighting against the balmy night and sending Alyssa’s hair floating behind her.
A car honked from outside the window, which she saw was open to the dark sky.
But she didn’t need to look out of the window to know where she was.  She didn’t need to turn the lights on.
She was home.  Back home.
Parker, Vessa, and all of her friends…were back on that other world.
The spell had been completed.  Morgana had seen to that.
Alyssa swallowed hard, feeling her throat grow thick as tears welled in her eyes. 
Eric was dead.  And she was suddenly alone, exiled from the world of magic and witches.  Not even one friend remained from that world to grieve with over the sudden death of her friend.
Eric.  Dead.
And what would become of that world now?  Eric had been doing good!  He’d been pushing back the evil in that world.  Morgana…was a damned fool.  She was so blind and fearful of the power he’d wielded as Prince Air that she couldn’t see the way he’d been changing the world for the better.  She was a slave to the magic and prophecy that those horrid hags claimed to wield.  And she’d done everything in her power, thrown everything away, to ensure that the stupid spell had been completed.  For better or worse.
And now Alyssa…was here. 
She was an ordinary girl in an ordinary world, once more.
The sound of cars outside, the hum of electricity, was both familiar and foreign.  But to Alyssa it was all wrong.  Because she wasn’t supposed to be here.  She was in the wrong place.
She fell to her side and let the tears come, wondering what this meant for her, wondering how she could simply move on.
“I will get back,” she vowed, holding on to the one thing that she knew would get her through this exile.  “If it’s the last thing I do, I will get back.”
She sat up, swiped angrily at her tears and glared defiantly at the dark, meaningless shapes in the room around her.  The spell the hags had used to bring her to their world in the first place couldn’t have been the only avenue to reach that world.  There had to be other ways.  Even if Alyssa herself hadn’t been touched by magic here, she had to believe that magic existed in this world.  And she would find it.  She had to.

“I will get back.”