Seasons Within by Lele Iturrioz
Release Date: December 15th 2016 by Acorn Publishing
Series: Seasons Within #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Most teenage girls know their name, where they came from, who they are. Not G, a beautiful redhead with unusual markings on her wrist. She gets her name from a silver locket she keeps around her neck, unaware the engraved letter “G” on its front holds the secret to her past.
G’s life before the age of six has been a mystery to her. Each night for the last twelve years she’s been haunted by the same nightmare—a war. Horrendous beasts, warriors able to wield the four elements, and a boy who saves her by means of blue fire taunt her memory. But on her eighteenth birthday, G’s life begins to unravel. When she meets her new Chemistry professor, a man with an uncanny resemblance to the boy who saves her, she knows there must be more to her dreams.
It’s dangerous not knowing who you are, what you’re capable of, and what future awaits you. Especially when the darkness that slaughtered your entire world, just found you.
DUST. Everything was covered in dust and ashes.
Nádúr Noc, the main city of Terra was once beautiful and full of life. Not like that night, the night the darkness descended from the far land of Ifreann.
Now, the round city of Nádúr Noc was dark, burned, and destroyed.
Trees were no longer big and full of different green and golden, bright colors. The river Enosi, a river that surrounded the city with its peaceful crystalline water was now a rapid of blood and death. As for the sky, once bright and blue, it was now filled with dark smoke so thick, it made it nearly impossible to see the remains of the Zansèt Palace; a magnificent castle in the middle of the city made of pearls, flowers, rocks, and vines.
On that night, there was no music and laughter. The only thing anybody could hear were screams and the desolate pleas of the in-habitants. Fear, pain, and unimaginable loss.
This city wasn’t the ruins of any ordinary war, it was the ruins between the light side of nature and the darkest of evils. Beasts and other horrendous creatures destroyed everything that they came across. Killed everyone in their sight. Soulless creatures who lived to torture. Answering to no one, no one except Him, the one who owned the darkness. The one who hell itself was afraid of.
On the outskirts of Nádúr Noc, across river Enosi, four of the elite warriors of Terra stood above the city on a grassy knoll. They watched as their sacred city burned to ashes. One of those men was Hans; a tall, strong, man with bright blue eyes, bushy blond beard and a bear’s claw scar down his neck and chest. Hans was no ordinary warrior, at an early age of twenty-seven he was an outstanding earth wielder and the youngest leader the Elder Clan ever had. He was also the one in charge of assuring the survival of their one last mission.
That night, Hans carried a brown forty pound bundle. Cargo whose value was far greater than all the riches of the world, as it was the world itself that depended on its survival.
“We are late,” cried a taller bald warrior.
“We are, but we can still make it,” said Nobu, a shorter, more muscular Asian man with two Koi tattoos across his left shoulder.
“Look at it.” The bald warrior pointed out at the ongoing war.
Houses burning, people running, beasts and fire destroying everything at their will. His body might’ve been rock solid but his hand was shaking. “It’s impossible to reach the palace. There has to be another way.”
“There isn’t. Our only hope is getting to the castle,” Nobu explained.
Hans looked around in all directions. Besides surrounding the city, the river Enosi had ten equally spaced creeks that flowed from the river’s bank, inwards, to the main plaza. “We’ll go through one of the river’s creeks to reach the plaza. From there we’ll have a short distance of running to the palace,” he said. “Get ready.”
As the warriors prepared to cross the waters into the city, the fourth warrior asked, “Is it true? Is He really here?” Each syllable trembled with fear. There was a moment of silence. The answer was obvious, as was the dread of speaking it out loud.
Finally, Hans stared at his entrusted cargo. “He was the first to arrive. He needs to make sure we don’t succeed.” Hans gave Nobu a nod. The soldiers descended the hill and, in the stealth like manner they had been trained for, ran through the tall grass until they reached the Enosi’s river bank. Nobu walked to the water’s edge and raised his hand in the direction of the thrashing bloody water.
The water began to churn, eventually opening to create a hollow circle between the bottom of the river and its surface. Once the waters were in his control, Nobu walked down the water cave into the river followed by Hans and the rest of the warriors.
As they walked undetected inside the water tunnel, the beasts continued shattering the bodies of those who were in their sight. The thick smell of iron and blood clung to their lungs as they choked their last breaths.
With a calculated pace, the group of men arrived at the base of the main plaza. Nobu slowly moved his hand through the air allowing a small portion of water to leak into the tunnel around their feet. Hans checked to make sure the dry bundle was cradled securely in one arm, preparing himself for his swimming ascent. The creek flooded, lifting the warriors up as the water levels rose towards the plaza’s ledge.
With the water almost at the top, Hans and the rest climbed up to the main plaza. A place where there once were dozens of jewels incrusted on the floors, smiling people, and flowers all around, was now replaced by corpses, blood, ruins, and stench. A place that separated the bank of the ten creeks and Zansèt Palace. Halfway between the creek’s bank and the castle, stood a burnt tree with a mix of symbols from every culture known to mankind engraved in its trunk.
This was known as The First Tree.
With silent ease, the men crept onto the dry land and darted behind some nearby ruins. In the market, the screams came louder. The smell of death grew stronger. People ran in every direction but it was useless, the smoke was so thick and the beasts were so used to darkness that their prey never stood a chance.
In the middle of the chaos lay the decaying castle. Its flag, half burned, still waved Nádúr Noc’s emblem of the four elements etched on the First Tree.
Out of nowhere, a twelve foot tall, black spider jumped from one of the ruins and landed a few feet away from the group. In all the universe there has never been an abomination like the Skuggor. With red eyes that could see movement even in the darkest place and three scorpion tails so hard and thick it was almost impossible to penetrate, Skuggors were nasty creatures of darkness preying on every living thing. They enjoyed ripping apart their victims and were so fast it was said they could out run any creature ever created.
Undetected by the group, a particularly large Skuggor leapt and grabbed the fourth warrior tearing him into pieces with its tails and teeth. The group ran without looking back, but the beasts were faster. Another beast jumped out of the ashes, only this time, Nobu opened his palm and water flew from his pores. The water spouted and formed three pointy solid daggers. Nobu flicked his hand and shot the daggers into the beast’s eyes.
A chilling hiss flew closer to them. “Draak!” screamed the bald warrior with gushing terror seconds before he was taken away. The Draak were horrifying beasts which preyed from the sky. Twenty five foot, dragons made of bones with spikes on their arms, tail, and at the top of their enormous bat wings. Draaks were the most feared creatures. They were also known as death’s whisperer since the last thing their victims heard was a soft whisper right before the Draak’s claws punctured their skin and took them away.
Hans moved away, lifting his hand and summoning two thick roots from the earth. The roots grabbed the Draak’s leg, smashing it against the floor. The beast stood up as if nothing happened and attacked a villager.
“Stay on route!” screamed Hans as he sped up the pace towards the castle.
The warriors’ lungs filled with ash, their feet were drenched in blood, but they kept running to the castle.
A third Skuggor ran in their direction and jumped, aiming for Hans. The Skuggor was about to reach him, when SLAM, a ball of fire hit the beast throwing him off target. The Skuggor turned its focus to a young villager with his shaky palm pointed at him. Its red eyes glowed with molten fury as he growled and ripped the young villager’s body apart. Another life lost, a willing sacrifice made to ensure the survival of their precious cargo.
With the extra time given by the sacrificing villager, Hans stopped and passed the brown bundle to Nobu. “Whatever you do, don’t let them near.”
Nobu took the bundle. There was a moment of hesitation but Hans placed his left hand on Nobu’s left shoulder. “Agnosco,” he said and placed his right hand on Hans’s right shoulder creating an X and repeated the same words. “Agnosco.”
Hans smiled and moved his hand away. “Run my friend, run.”
As instructed, Nobu ran. Hans waved his right palm in both directions and smiled at the beast. The floor cracked until vines and roots climbed out and reached Hans’s hand. With a slight movement of his wrist, the vines lifted, creating a tall, thick wall between the warriors and the beasts. Nobu hugged the bundle and ran faster until he heard the horrifying whisper of a Draak followed by the gushing screams of Hans. The vine wall came down with a loud crack and he knew it was over. The blood in Nobu’ veins went cold and his feet stopped moving. There was no way to outrun the Skuggor. No one ever had, no one ever would. Not in that realm.
Defeated, Nobu knelt down and unwrapped the bundle. A small six-year-old girl with gray eyes and tangled bright red hair blinked at him.
“Hide here, I’m going to go the other way to draw the Skuggor away from you. When they are gone you run as fast as you can to the castle.” Nobu passed his hand over the girl’s hair. “Do you remember where the special entrance is?” The girl nodded. “Good.” He smiled but his eyes remained sad and worried. “No matter what you hear, do not stop running.”
Nobu kissed the girl’s forehead. “And when you see her again, please tell my daughter I love her,” he whispered in her ear before hiding her between the bodies of two fallen villagers.
After quickly making sure the girl wasn’t visible, Nobu stood up and ran the other way luring the Skuggor away from the little girl. Once all the creatures were gone, the girl raced toward the castle. Within minutes, the Skuggor had killed Nobu and went on the hunt for her.
She could see it, the secret entrance to the Zansèt Palace, but there was no way to reach it in time. She sat on the ground letting the roots of the First Tree reach out of the concrete to create a barrier around her in order to shield her. She kneeled down in the protective fort of roots and caressed one of them. “Thank you” she whispered.
She cleaned the dust on her face with her fists so she could focus better. She was only a child but there was something about her that felt like an old spirit. To keep herself undetected, she concentrated on her breathing. It was as if she understood everything around her; she was calm and steady, ready to fight if it came to that. She wasn’t afraid, she knew what she had to do and acknowledged the fate she would face if discovered.
Pounding footsteps startled her. The sound came from the castle’s direction and grew louder and louder as they neared the girl’s hiding spot. The First Tree’s roots grew bigger in order to provide her more coverage. This is it, He found me she thought. She raised her left palm at the intruder’s direction and narrowed her eyes for a better aim.
Shining on her wrist was her birthmark, a Five Fold symbol.
At the moment she was about to attack, a nine year-old boy with fierce green eyes and messy light brown hair, stopped her. “Watch it kiddo! It’s me.” The girl lowered her hand, and Edan kneeled in front of her. Trying to calm her, he covered her eyes with his hand and pulled her into a hug with his other one “I'm right here." Edan moved his hand from her eyes, allowing the girl to look up at him. Her cold strong features vanished leaving a scared child who needed someone to hold her.
"That’s more like it,” he said with a reassuring smile. “Now let’s go. She’s waiting for you and we don’t have much time out here.”
Edan picked up the little girl. He held her steady, her face gently pressed against his chest and he ran as fast as possible. Four of the Skuggor noticed the movement and changed direction. Even at top speed, they couldn’t catch up with Edan. They couldn’t sense him either.
Edan wasn’t running straight, he was bolting into different directions and changing his route as much as possible. It wasn’t until he stopped stone cold when the girl knew something was wrong. She prepared herself to fight the beasts, but there were no beasts attacking them, it was Him, the feared one. He stood in front of the thin, muscular boy. The dark figure talked, but the words were muffled since the girl’s ears were covered by Edan’s chest and arms.
For the first time in her life, the girl couldn’t understand what was happening. She’d heard the dreadful stories about Him. Stories that could send chills of terror to the bravest warrior. And yet, Edan was there, standing without shaking or even blinking his eyes. By the rhythm of his heart and the movements of his body, the girl knew Edan was affected, but it wasn’t fear, it was something else, only she couldn’t tell what.
Edan whistled a high pitch note. A nearby Skuggor lost control and charged them. Edan grabbed a small crystal with a black powder out of his pocket, back-kicked it towards the Skuggor’s eyes, and without letting her go, he ducked.
The crystal broke on impact releasing the black powder into the Skuggor’s eyes. The beast leapt over Edan’s stooped body and attacked Him, giving the boy a small window of time to escape and run to the castle.
Speeding up his pace, the boy finally arrived at the main gates of the Zansèt Palace and closed them before anyone or anything could get in.
Unlucky for the boy, it took Him a matter of seconds to snap the beast’s neck and take off after them. Edan hid behind a column and placed his finger against his lips. The girl remained quiet as instructed. Edan moved against a wall and opened a secret compartment between a series of branches and trees.
They walked between roots and dirt, eventually reaching a room that was not yet touched by darkness. It remained pure and completely breathtaking. The place was made of petals, vines, precious stones, and water. Screams of the torture and death happening outside could not be heard, blood couldn’t be seen. It was the true essence of an intact Nádúr Noc.
“Tanya?” Edan called out. A woman with soft flowing black hair and wide gray eyes came out of one of the doors, ran to the girl, and hugged her. “My baby!” she covered the girl in kisses. “My beautiful girl, thank you Edan.” She smiled and kissed the girl’s forehead for a second time. “You are finally here, you made it.” Her face changed from happiness to a pain so strong that only a mother who’d lost a child could understand. “You made it, but we won’t. I’m so sorry for that.”
Tanya moved her hand and branches grew out until they reached her hand. Out of the branches, a small box fell into her palm. Tanya opened the box and took out a vintage silver locket with an engraved "G" in the middle.
Tanya walked to the girl’s back and opened the chain. The girl moved her hands in circles and a small gust of wind made her hair curl up into a bun. Tanya clasped the necklace and caressed her neck.
A loud thump was heard across the wall. The screams and cries were now audible inside the room. That only meant one thing. He found them. He was getting closer. “Edan!” Tanya gasped. “Quick!” The little girl’s hair fell back down her back, and Tanya lifted her into her arms.
Without wasting time, Edan moved his arms in circles creating a beautiful bubble of blue fire. The girl clung to her mother’s neck. “Sweetie, let go,” begged the mother.
“I can’t, I don’t want to.”
“You have to, for all of us.” The little girl lowered her arms and her mother kissed her goodbye before she placed her inside the fire bubble. A heartbreaking moment between a mother and her child, knowing that would be the last time they would see each other. Tanya kissed the girl’s nose and gently pressed the locket against the girl’s chest. “Never take it off,” she said while the fire ball closed up.
Once it closed… everything went dark, everything went silent…
Everything…until an alarm clock blared like crazy.
Major geek by day, hermit writer by night! Love books, sugar gliders and everything that comes in a delicious taco.
I’m the author of the YA fantasy series, Seasons Within
I spend my time writing, planning on writing, reading, drinking coffee like there was no tomorrow, MMA and chilling with my friends and loved ones.
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