Things go from bad to worse when the Galvadi Empire develops a new technology to use against the shadow stalkers. Now Kado and Makari are more determined than ever to keep Auren away from their enemies, but Auren decides enough is enough and takes matters into her own hands. She turns herself over to the Galvadi to get close to Drevin and Makari has no choice but to play along. He is forced to either torture Auren to prove his loyalty or die knowing she will be tortured and enslaved anyway. Somehow, they must get close enough to Drevin to bring him down and put an end to the Galvadi’s tyranny once and for all.
Episode 13: Defiance
Three years have passed since Auren and Shai escaped the daily torture of the Galvadi. With Makari’s help, they have learned more about the Galvadi’s technology and discovered ways to overcome its effects on their power, which gave them an edge in the war. However, the Galvadi have spent that time developing new technology that could mean the end of the shadow stalkers.
Episode 14: Falling to Pieces
Things go from bad to worse after Cali is captured by the Galvadi. The new technology they have employed is making a rescue attempt impossible and endangering the lives of all the shadow stalkers. Auren refuses to give up though, but the more she tries to fix thing, the more Kado tightens the leash.
Episode 15: Into My Own
Just when Auren thinks she’d had enough of Kado’s overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali’s death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don’t feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It’s time she takes matters into her own hands.
Episode 16: A New Emperor
Makari is told the only way he can prove his loyalty is by torturing Auren, but he refuses to go through it. So Jharak, Drevin’s master interrogator, took the liberty to be the one to break her, but in the end, it would take forcing her to watch him torture and kill Makari.
Episode 17: Allies to Enemies Part 1
Traitors are weeded out and new allies are found. Auren and Makari are determined to bring peace once again to the Serpent Isles, but they have a deadline. If they don’t make it in time, they could end up at war with their own people.
Episode 18: Allies to Enemies Part 2
General Graves wants Auren and Makari dead. When Makari demands one of Graves’ men, who secretly supports Makari, is sent to him for extra security at the palace, Graves uses a mind control drug to get him to assassinate them. Will Auren and Makari learn what happened before it’s too late?
Cali gave me a nudge as she took a seat next to me. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“No idea,” I said, moving over a few inches so she had space to sit between me and Shai on the log someone had converted into a bench.
Shai slung an arm around her cousin and Cali returned the gesture, then wrapped her free arm around me. I smiled at her. Cali was the only one who had helped me maintain my sanity over the years. It drove me crazy never knowing what was happening to Makari. Kado kept me busy, as usual, but any time I had a free moment, all I could do was wonder if he was safe. I would know if he died. I would sense him again in the shadow world. He had been blocking me to keep me safe, though I had no idea how it was supposed to help. All it did was make me want to go to him, which would be more dangerous.
Of course, Kado would never allow that. He saw my thoughts as I had them most of the time, and he would know as soon as I made the decision. I learned quickly not to allow my thoughts to go down that path too often. That’s where Cali came in. She distracted me by helping me forget the war and making me feel like a normal person once in a while. She was as good a friend as Jade, except she didn’t encourage me to disobey Kado when I was angry.
“Maybe the Galvadi have decided to give up,” Shai said, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“I know. It’s wishful thinking.”
I smiled at Shai. “I want this to be over too.”
“You’ll figure it out soon.” Cali gave my shoulder a squeeze.
All the shadow warriors knew the end of the war would not come until I stopped Drevin. The only problem was I had no idea what I was supposed to do, and no amount of training helped. Each day it seemed like I was further from my goal instead of closer.
After everyone had taken their seats, Kado held up a hand calling us all to silence. “Makari has just given me some disheartening news. The Galvadi have developed a—”
I tried to listen, but I couldn’t get past the fact that Makari had been here. “He didn’t even bother to see me?”
Kado glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d blurted it aloud.
“Makari has to keep a low profile for his own safety, and they were not aware he had left. He couldn’t stay away long.”
“I think it’s time he left the Galvadi all together,” I said, folding my arms over my chest.
“It would be the healthier option,” Cali added on my behalf.
“Makari’s work has been invaluable to us, and would not be possible if he weren’t living among them for the time being,” Kado said, then leaned in my direction looking straight into my eyes. “And he knows what he is doing.”
Kado watched me, and I was sure he was waiting to see if I would continue to interrupt him. I remained silent, but neither he nor Makari would be able to convince me the man I loved wasn’t taking an unnecessary risk. They could get whatever information they needed from their missions.
When he was sure I wouldn’t interrupt again he finished explaining that the Galvadi had developed a new recinder and how it worked. “You will need to avoid capture at all costs. Once these recinders are placed on you, there is no known way to nullify its effects even after removal. Auren, I want you to visit Makari’s unit to steal the schematics, and if possible, one of the recinders along with any other information you can find about new technologies. Makari suspects there is more, but they are keeping him in the dark.”
I stood quickly, smacking my hands together. “When do I leave?”
“Wait a moment. I have other things I need to discuss with you first.”
I sat again, hoping I wasn’t in for one of his long lectures.
“The rest of you are dismissed. Sephir, you and Shai are clear to leave on that special mission you’ve been training for as soon as you’re ready, but please be careful.”
“We will,” Sephir said, bowing.
I leaned over Cali to give Shai a quick hug. Cali wrapped her arms around both of us. Shai stood as soon as we released her, and Sephir, who had been standing next to her, wrapped an arm around her as they headed off.
“Good luck,” Cali said, winking at me before following Sephir and her cousin.
Kado sat next to me. “Auren, you have been the most adept at overcoming the effects of the beryllonium. That’s why I’m sending you on this mission, but you need to be extra careful this time. Makari believes even you wouldn’t stand a chance with this new recinder. If they are looking for test subjects, they may also have new ways of detaining shadow stalkers that Makari might not be aware of. If you are discovered, do not take any risks. Makari will not be able to help you. You will need to leave immediately. Understood?”
“Yes, Kado. I’ll be fine.” I only just managed to stop my eyes from rolling.
“I’m serious, Auren. We can always return later, but if you are captured, you may be lost to us for good this time.”
The fear in Kado’s eyes sobered me. Things came easily to me now that I had completed my training, and though I had discovered abilities not even Kado had known about, I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was all powerful. Sometimes my foster father seemed to worry more than he should, but I was beginning to think that wasn’t the case here.
“I’ll be careful, Kado. I promise.” It wouldn’t hurt to pay Makari a little visit too if he was alone.
Kado gripped my arm and tilted my head with his free hand so I was looking directly at him. “Under no circumstances are you to seek out Makari. If you attempt something so foolish, Auren, you will be punished and banned from future missions.”
My shoulders sagged. “It was an errant thought, Kado. I will focus on my mission.”
“The mission and nothing else, Auren. This is important.”
I nodded and averted my eyes. I just missed him. That’s all it was.
“I know you miss him, Auren, and that it’s been hard for you both to be apart, but it won’t be forever. You and Makari will have your time in this world if the shadow people will it, but not if you risk both your lives on foolishness.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Makari was being the more foolish of us both, and yet Kado supported him. It didn’t make sense, but whenever I brought the subject up with either of them, they redirected the conversation.
Kado pulled me into a tight hug and whispered, “Come back to me in one piece, please.”
I returned his embrace. “I will.”
Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy, and she’d dabbling with paranormal thrillers under a pen name.
She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.
Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6): http://reneescattergood.com