Good morning, Dear Readers!
I hope today finds you well. I realize that when I was in the throes of writing “Beyond Shammua,” I did not post as much unless I had a sale or a giveaway. Thus, I thought I would give you a little treat this morning for all your patience. Here’s another excerpt from the book … I think it’s a great example of the relationships between the characters, but also of their powers. (If you have’t already gotten your copy, then click the on the book title or the book cover to get to Amazon and grab one. I hope to post a purchase button on my website soon so that you can also purchase signed print copies directly from me.)
Hugs are on the house.
Excerpt from “Beyond Shammua” (Book III of The Gifted Trilogy)
Caleb was Ana O’Shea’s descendant – a grandson – many generations down the line. As he looked at her now, standing in a casual, light blue receiving gown, he marveled at her beauty and youthful appearance. Her dark hair was pulled up into a graceful sweep. The long casual dress brought out her eerie, ice-blue eyes.
At her advanced age, Ana barely looked older than 30. There was still a sense of dignity and wisdom about her that hinted her age.
Presently, she said, “Caleb, my precious grandson, it is always fun to watch you wield your extraordinary powers, but I could just strangle you for staying away for so long!”
Immediately feeling like a scolded child, He lowered his gaze and approached her. “Grandmother, it’s wonderful to see you again. I’m sorry I’ve been away so long. My … er … work … keeps me busy.”
She snorted, but to her credit, she withheld comment and simply provided one of her signature warm hugs when he wrapped his arms around her. She was a tall woman, but was no match for his height.
When he released her, he saw her dab at the corner of her eye. He felt ashamed. She had really missed him. He knew he needed to visit more often.
He tucked her arm into the crook of his elbow, the way she had shown him years ago, like a proper gentleman.
She directed him down the hall to a large conference room. As they strolled the distance, she asked, “How’s Ruth and those precious girls? Soonta and Lulu are adorable beyond words!”
“They are well, Grandmother. Ruth sends her regards, but you will probably hear from her soon, anyway. I know she keeps in touch with you.”
“Better than you …” she said, with a slight sideways glance up at him.
He sighed. In his life away from family, he was an extremely dangerous man. However, when his grandmother, his sister, or his nieces were involved, he was vulnerable. In most situations, he was numb. He carefully cultivated this emotion, which worked in direct opposition to his nature as a born Healer. Those women were the only ones who could penetrate it.
Just before they entered the largest conference room, he felt a combination of the physical reactions he had always experienced upon first coming upon Criers and Healers. Thus, before he even entered the room, he knew people with both abilities would be there.
He did not expect the mix of people from his past who waited inside.
The only Healer in the room, was his Uncle Daniel Waldron (Daniel was an “uncle” with many generations in between), who was the only other known being in the universes who was like Caleb – born possessing both the powers of a Healer and a Crier.
He also did not get along very well with his uncle for a wide variety of reasons.
Along with Daniel, Ana’s husband, William “Will” Hoffman, was present, along with Chicago Crier Penny Glover, and the Miami Crier in whose Cathedral they had all gathered – Brian Caldwell.
However, the most surprising guest was the presence of the first very first Crier – the legendary California Crier Duke Batten.
The assembled group was the original group of Criers – the oldest of them – before others came into their powers all over the country and around the world. No new Criers have been discovered since 2225, a couple of years after the Nahbians made first contact with Earth. There were Criers on every known planet. While the name of the Father God, the King of Light varied on other planets, the Supreme Being was a common thread. Caleb’s powers as a Healer and a Crier was a secret and his family respected his wishes, even though it pained them to do so. He knew this.
Currently, he looked around at the assembled group and marveled at this rare meeting. It could not mean anything good. A terrible intuition crept over him.
“What is this? An intervention?” he asked.
Ana laughed. “Of course not! But, we do have to speak with you. Your uncle had a vision and there are other things you need to know …”
Will rose from his seat at the table and walked up and embraced Caleb. Caleb returned his hug uncertainly. “It is good to see you, Grandfather.”
Will’s dark eyes assessed him closely. He threw up his defenses when he sensed Will’s mind had reached out to his own. He did not want the interference or the intrusion.
“It is very good to see you too, Caleb,” Will said. He finally pulled away and went to take a seat at the large conference table.
Daniel rose from his seat at Duke’s right. Duke sat at the head of the table.
He approached Caleb carefully. Daniel Waldron was an impressive figure. His dark blue eyes were powerful and he kept his salt and pepper hair closely cropped. He was tall – only three inches shy of Caleb’s height. He was still lean. He opened his arms and Caleb stiffly embraced him and let go quickly. He loved his uncle, but he was always wary of a potential fight.
Each in turn welcomed Caleb with varying degrees of affection and an almost equal degree of frustration and resentment. Caleb knew their reasons, but he did not care.
Finally, all had settled at the table.
Without preamble, Daniel said, “You have a meeting this evening with a minister on the Trihedron Defense Council. You are considering not meeting him … or not taking the job if you do meet him. Is this true?”
Caleb showed no reaction, but he knew it was useless to deny it. The Criers saw everything that Father God wanted them to see.
“Yes. Why should I keep the appointment?”
“Because he is a war-monger. I cannot see precisely how it comes about, but he will bring a war that is like no other. We have not seen such destruction on this planet in a very long time … more than loss of life … so much more. We suspect he may be a minion of the Dark One,” Daniel said.
“Why should I care? How does this affect me?” Caleb challenged. He banged his fist on the table.
“This is your destiny, Caleb … whether you choose to continue to deny your Father God, your bloodline – your heritage — or your duty … this is still your destiny,” Daniel said. He leaned on the table. His tunic sleeves slipped up, revealing a fair amount of the strange tattoos that covered his arms and torso.
Daniel was the only Crier or Healer who had the tattoos, which appeared on his body after he gazed upon his father’s tortured corpse. His mother once told him the story of how the tattoos burned themselves into Daniel’s skin. They looked like strange and ancient symbols, but no one so far could decipher them. The black symbols covered his arms, chest and back. Caleb had seen them in their entirety once on a family trip to the beach when he was a child.
“I will not end up like my parents … or like your father,” Caleb spat back at him. “I will not fight for the Father God and end up dead as my reward. I won’t.”
Daniel’s eyes glittered dangerously. Caleb knew his own icy gaze glittered with just as much terrifying power. The room crackled with gathering strength. The other Criers looked concerned, except for Duke.
“Stop!” Ana shouted as she jumped up from her seat. “We waste time! Like it or not, Caleb you are one of us.”
He leaned slowly back in his seat and coolly studied the group. “I may share the same bloodline and the power … but I am not one of you.”
Ana directed a glare at him. “You asked how this would affect you. Let me give you the scope of Daniel’s vision – it could destroy or enslave worlds, Caleb. That would include us! Your sister, your nieces, as well! How about that? Would that affect you enough or have I given you too much credit all these years? I thought you cared for your sister and your nieces. Perhaps I have been wrong, and you really are as callous, merciless, and selfish as you present yourself to be.”
His temper was disarmed and replaced by skepticism. “You really think this meeting is that important? You don’t even know who I am meeting.”
“You are meeting Etienne Marcelle.” Duke spoke up for the first time since Caleb entered the room. The first and oldest Crier, looked like a man in his 70’s, albeit a vital and healthy 70. He still wore his white hair long – down past his shoulders. He kept a distinguished goatee, but to Caleb he looked like a fairy tale wizard. There was a strange aura about the old prophet that intimidated most people, even Caleb a little. And, he was not easily intimidated.
“So, Father God has revealed this to you, too?” Caleb asked. He worked hard to hide his sense of shock.
“He’s revealed it to all of us,” Will answered gently.
Brian nodded. “Something terrible is brewing. Something we don’t understand. None of us can see that far ahead to know what will happen … or rather …”
“… Rather … none of us have been allowed to see that far ahead yet,” Penny finished.
It was an eerie thing to behold, but the Criers, when gathered together for more than a few moments, had the ability to move and speak almost as a unit. It was fascinating and borderline creepy to normal people. What was creepier to Caleb was the fact that he could feel their thoughts and anticipate some of what they were going to say. His own abilities cried out for him to join with them, to give in and be what he was born to be. He resisted and because he fought it, he could not delve into deeper communion with them. He loathed to admit part of him longed to do it. He shuddered with the effort it took to throw off the urge.
He did not miss a small satisfied smile when it almost simultaneously crossed all their faces.
He abruptly got up from his chair and moved away from the table. Coming here was a bad idea, he thought.
“As if you had …” Ana began,
“… a choice,” Will finished.
“Oh, dear God, every time I am around you people, it’s like a weird trip on Sethurian farwa weed!” Caleb put his hands to his ears for a moment.
He slowly regained his control and lowered his hands. He felt his features close off until he knew they were unreadable. “If my family is truly threatened – not that Father God bothered to reveal anything to me regarding their safety – then I will help. For now. What do you want me to do?”
“Let us know what Marcelle wants from you. Accept the job he wants you to take. You would have accepted it anyway. You love a good challenge and this appears to be a definite challenge,” Daniel said. “We suspect that he wants you to follow a being that appears to be part of an undeclared species passing for human. They do not know what this being’s intentions are. Etienne Marcelle and the rest of the TDC – plus whomever Marcelle is really working for – have a legitimate stake in wanting to know this, but we’re not so sure if the legitimate reason is the real reason he wants you to investigate this creature. Whoever or whatever he is.”
He weighed what his uncle had said for a moment. “Fine, I will report back to you, but if I do not see any threat, then I reserve the right to terminate this arrangement.”
“Fair enough,” Penny said.
All the Criers nodded in unison.