THE DESCENDANTS - Rise of the Reaper Army The Descendants Book One by Nikki Lee Taylor -- Can they save our world from becoming Hell on Earth? ***Excerpt***
The Descendants - Rise of the Reaper Army
by Nikki Lee Taylor
Date of Publication: 1, January 2019
Number of pages: 280
Word Count: 82,019
Cover Artist: Nikki Lee Taylor
When the apex predators of the forest begin acting strange, former Army Captain Gabriel Stone knows something is wrong. Change is all around. He can sense it in the earth and feel it in on the wind. Something is coming…
After being attacked by a vampire, Gabriel thinks his 'life' is over. Alone, confused and with no choice other than to hide out, alone in an old forest cabin, Gabriel has sworn to find and kill the creature that changed him. But when the hunt leads him to an old farmhouse and he encounters the fiery, beautiful and headstrong Aurora, Gabriel's world is turned upside down as he quickly realises not everything is as it seems.
Aurora is a Descendant, the daughter of a vampire father and Amazon warrior mother. She is strong, beautiful and has a special connection to the earth and its creatures. After spending a lifetime hunting the monsters that killed her parents, Aurora has all but given up - until she meets Gabriel, who is tortured, angry and out for revenge. But despite his flaws, Aurora knows he is the key to everything she has been searching for - if they don't kill each other first.
With a story that highlights the beauty and importance of preserving of our natural world, The Descendants - Rise of the Reaper Army tells the age-old story of good versus evil, while highlighting the frightening impacts our modern society is having on the planet, as Gabriel and Aurora fight to save our world from becoming Hell on Earth.
ExcerptAurora shot a second arrow into the air, a signal the Reapers were coming. Using the arrows to communicate was effective but more important, it was silent. The arrow sailed high into the darkened sky and hung against the storm clouds like a black-winged bird.
To Aurora it felt as though her entire life had been leading to this moment. Now only seconds remained until the Reapers would breach the cave. She pictured her mother and father as they had been when she was a child. They were the reason she was here, not because they were her parents but because they represented all that could be. Her mother had lived her life every day not as someone put on the Earth, but as a part of it. Her father had watched over them as every season they grew taller and stronger. Together they had sewn their love and tendered to it with warm smiles and splashes of laughter. People deserved a chance to learn how to love like that and it was up to her to give it to them.
The first calls of the Reapers caught on the wind and Aurora touched her hand to the earth. She closed her eyes and called upon those she knew would hear her.
When the Reapers came into sight, she ducked down behind a boulder to catch her breath. Since the night they murdered her parents Aurora had never let the Reapers drift far from her mind, but she had been a child. Looking upon them now was an assault on her senses. Their thick black flesh and bony exoskeleton rang out against the pure snow and their soulless eyes failed to reflect the light. She knew they would be strong, and they would be fast. Outrunning them would be difficult and overpowering them would be impossible. She thought of Gabriel and wondered how he would ever fight his way through them to kill Lucifer. The task ahead was enormous.
As she watched on, Melloch followed the first wave of Reapers out of the cave. He was taller than the others, heavier and stronger. When he reached the rocky terrace, he stopped and sniffed at the air, a guttural sound that pushed its way up and out of his throat. The scent of impending rain hung heavy in the air and he blinked slowly, his flat black eyes staring out over the field. He held up his right hand and the first wave of Reapers suddenly stopped where they were. The drumming fell silent and the last echoes of their marching feet drifted away on the wind. Aurora held her breath. Something was wrong.
Standing at the edge of the terrace, Melloch growled and pounded his cloven hoof against the rock. Thunder rolled and a bright fork of lightening lit up the inky sky. He threw back his head and roared. A war cry to the army. It was about to begin.
He took his first step out onto the snow and anger rushed through Aurora’s body like a wild fire. The demon had taken everything from her and now he was in her world. Searing heat spread through her veins, more than determination, more than resolve. It was power. Her pupils dilated and her eyes became completely red as the force of generations of Scythian warriors and strigoi rushed through her. She was the chosen one, the first descendant. It was time to fight. She threw back her head, opened her arms and called upon the ravens of the forest. At once, hundreds of ravens rose from the branches casting a dark shadow out across the field. Aurora watched anxiously as Melloch stared up at the birds hanging like a storm cloud ready to burst.
When he was satisfied there was no danger, his hand signal gestured to the army and they began to move out across the field. The Reapers set foot into the snow and Aurora gave the signal. Immediately the circling birds began to dive. Their shrill cries cut through the air as they flew like bullets at the army. Lost within a mass of screaming feathers, the Reapers stumbled back and then forward, blinded by the swirling mass. Gabriel gripped the handle of the dagger tightly as he watched their plan unfolding. Soon it would be time for his part.
Outside the cave Melloch stopped and roared up at the sky. The intensity of his anger vibrated into the earth and the ground rumbled as it cracked open along an ancient fault line.
Aurora whispered to the trees and they responded, uncoiling thick vines that slithered out across the ground. They wrapped tightly around the Reapers legs and Aurora watched as confusion and anger chiselled into Melloch’s face. He peered to the left and then to the right but seeing no one, his head fell back and he roared out.
Up on the hill, protected by low lying shrubs, Harrison lay on his belly and took a slow, deep breath. With any luck he could slow some of them down before he got made. He closed one eye and positioned his first target in the scope of his rifle, that big ugly son of a bitch standing out in front. Confident in his sights, he squeezed the trigger and the bullet found its mark. Melloch stumbled back and clutched at his neck.
“Whoever they are, find them,” he shouted to his soldiers. “Kill them!”
The first wave of Reapers pulled wildly at the vines trying to free their legs, but it was taking time. Harrison took the opportunity and continued firing, hitting the Reapers in the face and neck. They swatted at the bullets like flies, but the shots were slowing them down.
Aurora stood up and took an arrow from her quiver. She let out a breath and slowly stretched it back in a bow that had been her mother’s. The string was been made from the dried sinew of a fallen brown bear and the bow carved from an old oak tree. Slowly and carefully she closed her fingers around the wood. Her blood pulsed with the power of her ancestors as she counted to three and released the arrow. It peeled through the air, spiralling over the rocks until it found its mark in the dark flesh of Melloch’s neck.
“What are these games?” He roared as he stumbled back. “Who do you think you are?”
Aurora stepped out from behind the rocks. It was time to do what she came for. No more hiding.
She stared at Melloch and Lucius’ words ran through her mind. Melloch would become their greatest ally. He would attempt to kill Lucifer. Killing him herself was not what Lucius wanted. This was not the plan, but he had taken everything from her and the temptation was too great.
“Do you want this world enough to die for it demon?” She shouted out.
She raised the bow and it creaked beneath the tension of the arrow. Only a demon could kill a demon, but Lucius was confident that an arrow coated in the blood of a vampire and unleashed by a descendant of the strigoi might just be enough to take the Reapers down.
She let go and the arrow peeled through the air hitting Melloch in the sternum.
“You cannot kill me,” he shouted as the arrow lodged between the bones in his chest. “I am Melloch, Gatekeeper of Hell and guardian of the fifth realm.”
“I know who you are Melloch,” she seethed. “But tell me, do you know who I am?”
He stared at her and laughed. “You are nothing.”
Aurora stood tall. This was the moment she had been waiting for. Finally, she would have her revenge. “I am Aurora, daughter of the strigoi Vasile and Scythian Queen Aarani. I am the first descendant of the Scythian-strigoi race. You murdered my parents and took my family from me. Now I’m going to kill you.”
She took aim and peeled off another arrow that hit Melloch square in the side. He arched back and winced in pain.
“Soon you will start to die,” she told him. “Poisoned by the blood of a demon.”
“Lucius orchestrated this,” he snarled. “I’ll tear him apart.”
“Why you’ll do no such thing.”
Aurora’s head snapped around and to her surprise, Lucius and the Council stood side by side out in the middle of the field. He was too far away for his voice to have sounded so close and yet she heard it as though he was standing right beside her. Unprotected and out in the open, the four members of the Council extended their arms and began to chant, their voices carrying on the wind.
Harrison lowered his rifle and checked to make sure he was seeing correctly. What the hell were they doing out there? This was not part of the plan.
Aurora glanced to where she knew Gabriel would be and wondered if he knew the Council had been planning this. Lucius had said nothing of being involved but there was no time to wonder. The Reapers were breaking free from the vines and running toward the middle of the field. The Council was in danger.
Aurora reached into her quiver and quickly peeled off arrow after arrow, piercing as many of the Reapers as she could. The Council continued to chant and one by one the Reapers fell.
“They’re escalating the affects,” Aurora whispered. “Making sure the poison takes hold.”
She shouted toward the forest at the top of her voice. “Sisters it’s time. Go!”
At her command they rode out on horseback and at their side 10 giant grizzly bears joined the fight. Aria, Amelia, Jasmyne and Jada peeled off blood-soaked arrows and the bears swung their enormous heads, shoving the Reapers off balance and crushing them beneath their weight. The circle of ravens continued to grow until the entire sky moved as one. The birds dived and pecked at the Reapers, they got in their face and blocked their vision. The plan was working.
Outside the cave Melloch fell to one knee as the poison took hold. Approaching him had not been part of the plan but Aurora could not resist. She had waited so long and he was right there.
Through his scope Harrison saw what she was doing and swore out loud. “Damn it Aurora, no.”
She stepped up onto the terrace and kicked Melloch in the chest with so much force he fell backward onto the ground. “Tell me Melloch, are you ready to die?”
But to her surprise the demon laughed. “Do you really think your little tricks can stop us? There are thousands more soldiers about the break the surface. You are wasting your time woman. Your world is ours. You will all be exterminated.”
“The only one about to die is you Melloch and when we win, Lucifer will step over your lifeless body on his way back to Hell.”
Melloch roared and grabbed at her but she was ready. Bending one knee, she used all her strength to pivot forward and stab an arrow deep into his chest. “All your glorious plans are over Melloch. Now we’re even.”
It was the moment she had longed for. She had her revenge. Satisfied, she ran to the edge of the forest where she crouched down and whispered on the wind to Aurel. When the wolf broke the tree-line he was not alone. At his side, 200 wolves bound from the forest and the enormity and beauty of the pack took Aurora’s breath away. They crossed the field weaving through the members of the Council and Lucius opened his eyes. They found Aurora’s and he nodded. They were winning. Now all she had to do was find a way to save Gabriel.
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