The countdown clock reads ten days until the end of the world. The citizens are organized. Everyone’s been notified and assigned a duty. The problem is . . . no one knows for sure how it will end.
Energy-hungry Mages are the most likely culprit. They travel toward a single location from every corner of the continent. Fueled by the two suns, each Mage holds the power of an element: air, earth, fire, metal, water, or ether. They harness their powers to draw energy from the most readily available resource: humans.
Ashara has been assigned to the Ethereal task force, made up of human ether manipulators and directed by Loken, a young man with whom she has a complicated past. Loken and Ashara bond over a common goal: to stop the Mages from occupying their home and gaining more energy than they can contain. But soon, they begin to suspect that the future of the world may depend on Ashara’s death.
Elder Kohler and Elder Ethereal stood close together at the front of the room, whispering in hushed, frantic tones. The other elders clustered around them. Loken stood a couple feet away, craning his neck toward them. I guessed he was attempting, not so subtly, to eavesdrop on their conversation.
The eavesdropping must have been unsuccessful because Loken began pacing the front of the room. His mouth moved, and his arms gestured in jerky motions. But he didn’t seem to be speaking to anyone in particular.
I pushed my way to the front of the room and placed a hand on Loken’s shoulder. He jerked away, his eyes wild. His shoulders relaxed a bit when he focused in on me. Then he returned to his pacing.
“Hey,” I said. He ignored me. “Hey.” I stepped into his path.
Loken searched my face. His gray eyes seemed darker than usual, like a storm brewed behind them. He bent over and crushed me in a tight hug. At first I tensed, but then allowed myself to settle into his chest. His shirt smelled of metal and something sweet—cinnamon maybe. When he pulled away from me, I itched to push the lock of blond hair off his forehead.
The moment passed too quickly. Loken opened his mouth to say something, shook his head, then turned away from me. He went back to pacing and muttering to himself. Nervousness roiled in my chest. If ever-steady Loken was agitated, I had good reason to worry.
I located Krin toward the back of the room and joined her. My attention was drawn back to the front as Elder Kohler’s artificially amplified voice filled the room.
“We have a bit of a situation on our hands.” Whispers scattered throughout the room, and Kohler cleared his throat. The noise didn’t die down. “Quiet!” he shouted.
I jumped at the sound of his raised voice. His voice grew barely louder when he shouted, given the permanent damage his long-ago accident had caused to his vocal cords. But the gravelly rasp in it became even rougher. A harsh sound.
Elder Kohler scanned the crowd with a glare fixed on his face. His gaze landed on me, paused, and then moved on.
He opened his mouth again. Before words could escape, the door to the briefing room burst open. A loud crunching sound reverberated through the space, as the door lefts its hinges and flew across the room.
Practitioners scattered from the doorway, pressing closer together. Two people were too slow. The door slammed into them and threw them across the room, crushing them into the far wall. I tore my eyes from the blood beginning to leak underneath the now-detached door—blood that used to belong to the two people trapped between it and the wall.
Alicia Wright Brewster is a mild-mannered lady of average height and above average paranormal obsession. By day, she works in an office. At night she is an author, an electronics junkie, and a secret superhero. (Please don’t ask what her superpower is; that’s not very polite.)
In her virtually non-existent free time, she loves to read, watch movies, and eat food. She is particularly fond of the food-eating and makes a point to perform this task at least three times per day, usually more.
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