So I kinda screwed up the Forsaken Box Set by forgetting to include a pivotal chapter in the second book.
I just fixed it on Amazon, so all future customers will have it. You can just re-download your copy of the box set, or you can read the missing chapter below:
Chapter Twenty-Nine of REVELATIONS, Book Two of the Forsaken Saga
When Hunter released her, Nora fell back dreamily. ¬She felt all warm inside, and for the moment, everything was right. She closed her eyes happily as a tingle of shivers ran down her spine. When she opened them again, Hunter was still right there, smiling down at her.
“I was so worried about you,” he said, as he traced a thumb along her cheek. “I didn’t know where you were, or if you were safe, or if I would ever see you again.” The tone of his voice was genuine. His words were genuine. “You cannot imagine how much it pained me to leave you like that.”
“Then why did you?” Nora asked softly.
“I had to,” he told her. “It was the only way to keep you safe. I know you’re stubborn, sometimes – don’t frown at me, you know it too! – and if I had told you the truth, I feared you would want to come with me.”
“Of course I would have come with you!” she exclaimed.
He smiled at her again. “And that’s why it had to be the way it was.”
“She does not hate you. She realized other Vassiz were close behind us the night we first met. That is why she acted toward you…the way she did.”
“To keep me away?”
“To alienate you from her. And when she told me and Alexander what was going on that night, we all agreed that splitting was for the best. To keep you safe.”
“So that means,” Nora began, somewhat hesitantly, “that there’s nothing…going on… between you two?”
Hunter smiled. “No,” he said. “It was all an act.” He chuckled lightly, and Nora sighed. She loved hearing him laugh and missed it when he was gone. “To be honest, I thought my part in it had been so poorly done as to give it all away.”
“So that means the fight I overheard? Between her and Alexander…?”
Hunter shook his head. “Those two lovebirds have been at each other’s side for hundreds of years. Nothing could come between them anymore.” He pushed himself up and offered Nora a hand. “Come. There are some that are eager to meet you.”
Nora took his hand and looked around her for the first time. She was in a fairly spacious room, with no windows and only one grand door leading out. The floor that she had been lying on was hard marble and a spectacular white. So were the walls. If she didn’t know any better, she would have said this was part of the same structure as that great corridor had been. “Who are they?” she asked.
“You’ll see.” Hunter smiled. He slipped his hand around the small of her back and led her forward. Nora took her first step – and nearly fell. She hadn’t realized it before, but her legs felt weak, as if they hadn’t been used for a very long time. But, strangely, based on what she could remember of her condition after the fight with that…creature…she should have been teetering on the edge of death right now. Except she wasn’t. Her body felt weak, yes, but nothing in particular stood out. She was in no pain.
“How long was I out?” she asked Hunter.
“A few hours, at most.”
“What?” Surprise painted her tone. How could she have healed so quickly in only a few hours? She remembered hitting her head and brought a hand up to where she thought she’d made impact. To her surprise, there was nothing there. No scab, or gash, or bump. But she distinctively remembered finding blood there before. “How?”
“Those people that want to meet you?” he replied, a twinkle in his eye, “one of them was able to heal you after the battle.”
Hunter smiled at her again. “You’ll see. Come.”
She put a hand around his back and walked beside him to the door. Twisting the handle, he pushed it open, and Nora gasped.
They were looking right at the grand chamber where she had encountered that vile creature. The same shining pool spread across the floor, but its waters looked calmer, somehow. Slightly more relaxed. She looked up at the ceiling and was relieved to find that the crystals there were blue. It meant this was the chamber on the first side of that curtain of black.
Quickly, her eyes followed the hall down to where she remembered flying through a tear in that terrible darkness. She saw the black shadow was still there, but the gnash the creature had cut was gone, replaced by solid black. For some reason, seeing that was reassuring to her.
Then she noticed a bundle of shapes in a far corner. She saw Alexander and Madison first, staring deeply into each other’s eyes. Behind them…a group of people she did not immediately recognize. They were tall and muscular – taller than anybody here by a head. Their bodies were lean and perfectly proportioned. They were also completely unclothed.
A light seemed to radiate from the group, encircling all their bodies like a halo. Nora realized it was much the same as the light that graced this hall, the one that came from everywhere and nowhere all at once.
There were three men and three women in the group, and they were all facing away from her. But as the door Hunter had pushed swung completely open, all six immediately turned to face her. And she gasped again. The people were the same ones she had seen in the pool earlier. And she had been right in her estimation of their beauty. When their faces were not twisted in pain, they simply had the most beautiful, most perfect proportions she could imagine.
Each of the six people looked slightly different, each in their own way, but each was still perfect and more beautiful than the last. She remembered seeing Madison for the first time and being struck by her beauty. Seeing these six, however, was like holding a glowing star to a flickering candle to compare which was brighter. Nora didn’t even want to think where she stood on that hierarchy.
One of the people – a man – stepped forward.
She spun around. The voice had appeared in her head, but it wasn’t her own.
“Do not be alarmed.” The man from across the hall was looking straight at her and smiled with easy eyes. “This is the way in which we speak.”
Nora looked to Hunter, but he was completely unfazed. “Can you hear him?” she whispered in his ear. Hunter shook his head. “If he is speaking to you, you will be the only one to know.”
Nora frowned. “Hello?” she said in her head. There was no reply.
“You need to speak out loud for them to hear you,” Hunter told her, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking.
“Oh.” That was…a little discomforting. “Hello?” she said again, raising her voice. Alexander and Madison looked up to her, and both of them smiled. Alexander’s arm – the one that had been burnt so badly – and his shoulder, looked completely healed.
“I am thankful you are feeling better. Were it not for you, we would not be here.”
“Oh. Uh…thank you?” Then she remembered what Hunter said. “Were you the ones who healed me?”
The man smiled at her. “Yes.”
“Thank you,” Nora said, and this time she meant it. “You know who I am – but I do not know you. I have seen your reflections in the pool. Was that…really you?”
“We have been imprisoned there for thousands of years, held captive by the beast who tried to take your life.”
Whoa. Just who were these people? If they had the power to heal her…and the power to communicate like this…who knew what other gifts they shared? Who could possible imprison them?
“But thanks to you, we are now free again. For that, we are forever in your service.” As one, all six of the people dropped down to one knee and bowed their head. Each placed their left first firmly on the ground and two fingers on their forehead. Nora was taken aback by the gesture.
“But I… I didn’t do anything,” she admitted, feeling flustered. “You can stand – you should not do that for me. I couldn’t possibly have…freed you. I wasn’t even the one who defeated the beast that held you captive! That was Hunter, and Madison.” She heard Hunter chuckle lightly under his breath. And the six did not move from their positions. They looked like glowing Greek statues, perfectly sculpted in every way in their stillness.
“The prophecy told of your coming.”
“Prophecy?” She remembered Alexander telling her something about a prophecy the night they first met. That there was a fleeting mention of some vague prophecy somewhere in the Vassiz creed. But she couldn’t possibly believe it could be related to her. “What prophecy?”
“When the darkness comes, and hope is lost, a shimmering star shall be revealed. And she will free the fallen ones, restoring order to the rule of man.”
Nora frowned. That sounded…prophetically epic. And…completely vague. “What does it mean?” she asked. “And how can it possibly have anything to do with me?”
“There is more, of course. A tome dedicated entirely to the prophecy, writ long ago. What I quoted you is a glimmer of the surface.”
“So what does it say?” Nora asked.
“It says many things, of course. Debate has raged through the eons about its true meaning. But some things are certain. It speaks of a new coming order, a realignment in the place of all. There is mention of a human child, taken in the dream and ripped to reality. She is the shimmering star of hope. It is told that before her eighteenth namesday she will return to her world of birth, and with it she shall set the fallen free. The order of rule will be realigned in those who set the prisons, but she shall come both as one of them, yet set apart. It speaks of you, Nora.”
“Wha…?” She shook her head. “I don’t understand. You…are the fallen?”
“The fallen what?” She asked the question, but in the back of her mind, a growing suspicion was telling her what they were going to say.
“We are the fallen angels, both ancestors and descendants of the first life on earth.”
Fallen angels? She may have been surprised by it, once, but not after everything she’d seen in the past few hours.
“Our realm is that of the dream, and that is the world we are properly set to inhabit. It is where we stayed, before we found ourselves held captive.”
“And who exactly imprisoned you?” Nora asked. Again, she had a feeling she knew the answer…
“Our brothers, the Vassiz.”
“Brothers?” That, Nora was not expecting. “What do you mean, brothers?”
“The Vassiz are descendants of our kind. They are a hybrid, a mixture of human and angel flesh. The powers they hold come directly from our lineage. The story of their ancestry is not well known, but I will share it with you. It is a story of love, and sadness.
“The first came to be when one of our kind forsook everything given to us in the dream world to come into the world of humans. He spied a mortal woman and fell strongly in love with her. He came to her dreams, spending time with her there, at first, but on waking she would not remember anything that happened while she slept. Every night, he would see her in the dream, and every night she would meet him as if someone new. This lasted for many years, until the woman he loved became burdened with age and frailty. But he did not want to lose her to the embrace of death, and so – against all advice and rationality – he crossed the prohibited barrier from the dream world to the human world.
“He came into the human world in the flesh. It was there where he met his true love again, and she fell into his arms. They lived happily together, but time was short. He did not want to lose her, and so, desperate to extend her life, granted her the gift of angelic blood. He did this by extracting his own blood and feeding it to her. He thought it would keep her alive and with him forever.
“He was wrong. The transformation gripped her very soul, and she lost everything about her that made her human. She became little more than wild beast. And she thirsted for human blood. When he saw what he had created, it pained him greatly, and he took recluse from his love. He locked her away, barring her from him forever.
“But what he could not predict was the spawn that would come forth from her. For the humans she bit before she was locked away transformed into others much like her. Their numbers grew quickly, but each successive transformation retained less and less angelic blood. The result of which, paradoxically, was that less and less of the beast instincts were activated in them. And so, over time, the creatures that had been let wild in the world of man began to conform to the rules of society. They began to retain more and more of their humanity, and soon – the Vassiz race was born.”
“But… I don’t understand. How did you become captive? Are there more of you anywhere?”
“We are the only ones left. A war broke out between our kind and our brothers. It threatened to shroud the entire world in darkness. It raged for many years, with many casualties on either side. Neither had an advantage, but we were slowly destroying both worlds we lived in – the dream realm and the human world. In the end, to preserve life on this earth, the six of us you see before you today, three male and three female, were set to be imprisoned here, in exchange for an armistice.
“But we were betrayed. After we were placed here, the Vassiz leaders ordered all other angels to be killed. They were overtaken without warning and had no chance.
“It was genocide.”
“The Vassiz did this?” Nora was shocked. “Who commanded it?”
“Those known as the elders today. They rose to power following our imprisonment and have ruled over all other of their kind ever since. They are ruthless. They killed any others – members of their own race – who held memories of our fight. The only Vassiz that were left were young and newly converted. They did not know the secrets behind the elders’ rise to power and could never suspect it.”
Nora was amazed. It was the elders who commanded all the packs after her and the elders who got their power by killing all those around them. No wonder they were the oldest Vassiz left.
An anger at the cruelty of it all started to rise within her.
“What did you mean by what you said earlier? That ‘she shall come as one of them, yet set apart’?”
“Your first feeding. You took Vassiz blood.”
Nora felt a pang of guilt. “How did you know?” she asked softly.
“I can feel your life essence. It is different from the other Vassiz.”
Suddenly, Nora realized that everybody else was staring at her. Hunter, at her side, was looking at her with wide eyes. So were Alexander, and Madison. They had both gotten up to stare right at her.
“What?” she asked, addressing the question to all of them at once.
“Your first feeding,” Hunter began, “you took Vassiz blood?”
How did he know? Nora felt the eyes of everyone on her. All were expecting, and waiting. “Yes,” she admitted.
“Who?” Madison asked in that chiming voice. Her tone was much kinder than Nora remembered from before.
“Korver’s wife,” Nora said slowly, staring past everyone to the far wall. “His pack attacked us. It is where Alexander took the arrow for me. She was trying to kill me, I’m sure, and her sons and husband went after Alexander. I got her down, and…” she gulped, “… and fed.”
She felt Hunter squeeze her tighter. “Welcome to our race,” he said softly.
While all that was happening, the…angels…had risen again, and were all looking to her as if expecting a command.
“How did you know?” she asked Hunter again.
He smiled and nodded toward the front-most angel. The one who was speaking to Nora.
“You were talking…to all of us?” Nora asked, surprised. The man smiled at her.
“Yes. You have us at your service, Nora. Only speak and we will do as you command.”
“I have a question. What was that thing that fought me and kept you here?”
“It is a creature from nightmare, ripped straight out of the dream realm. Some would call it a daemon.”
“But…how is that possible? How can something be ripped out of the dream realm?”
“It can only happen here, in this place. This chamber is the one point on the entire earth that the dream world and the human world…touch. There exists the slightest bit of overlap, and the result is that it becomes possible to go across worlds fully, in the flesh. The darkness you see to your side? It is the barrier between the two.”
Suddenly everything started to make sense. Nora remembered being thrown across that barrier, remembered the feeling of losing herself all-too-clearly. So there was a reason why the sensation was the same as coming back to her body from entering the dream world. Or rather, not entering, but projecting herself there.
“It is the same barrier that the first angel used to come into the world of humans to spawn the Vassiz. But going across it is not something one should do twice. It is dangerous to cross like that. You risk losing yourself in the void that exists between the worlds. And in the dream world, imaginations and nightmares run wild. The creature was one such; it was a guardian, put together from the greatest of nightmares that hunt the dream. Created to keep us locked here forever.”
“But not anymore,” Nora said.
“No. Thanks to you, we are now free.”
“So…now what happens?”
“That is your choice, Nora.”
She thought for a moment. She looked at Hunter, standing beside her again, looking at her reverently. She saw Madison and Alexander, holding each other in their arms, watching her with respect. She felt the gaze of the angels directed only at her.
They were all waiting for her to decide what to do.
“We will fight against the elders,” she said coldly. “And make them pay for what they did to you. For the travesties they committed against their race. For the oppression and fear they spread amongst the Vassiz. For what they did to Alexander and Rafael. For the ruin they brought onto the Vassiz they claim to serve, we will fight, and we will win.”
A cheering erupted from the angels, and it wasn’t just in her head. They moved their lips, and sound came out, but it was unlike any sound she’d heard before. It was pure and clean. And elated. She felt their joy with her decision. She looked to Hunter briefly, and he smiled approvingly.
“Wait,” Nora said, addressing the angel again. “I don’t even know your name.”