The Manipulated Evil Series a Science Fantasy Thriller Trilogy by T.C. McMullen

Scattered Souls Excerpt

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Prologue

 

Rhynon lay still on a mattress of feathers and stared up at a tar-black ceiling. He saw nothing beyond the ravaging pit his thoughts had become. The wounds in his shoulder and gut puls­ed like festering volcanoes, yet those pains were nothing compared to his new knowledge. Ravyn honestly meant to kill him. And she nearly succeeded.

He never thought she would turn so completely against him, she being the only other who could relate to everything he had experienced. Her refusal to join him in his quest also evaded his comprehension. The worlds needed cleansed of the vile filth populating them. Filth like Chione and Carter who took it upon themselves to force life and then abuse it. And after the worlds were cleansed, they would never again be filled with the unruly beings. He, with the others, would rule the new worlds and make sure no one ever stepped beyond the boundaries of nature again. Freedom was overrated. There would always be someone who would abuse it. Just like naughty children, the people of the worlds needed disciplined. They needed strong rulers who weren’t afraid of the absolute punishments.

The slice in his gut smarted when Bryn rubbed it clean. She worked over his wounds too brusquely, her silver eyes narrow, her skinny face pinched in concentration. Bryn certainly was an interesting creature even at her young age, but her beauty was nothing compared to Ravyn. He averted his gaze from Bryn and thought of nothing beyond Ravyn, one woman who could truly stand alongside him and help him with his rule. She was his equal. But she was obviously blinded by the false hopes of free will.

Still, he couldn’t believe Ravyn would stay blind. Somehow, he would make her see the bigger plan. Somehow, he would make her join him.

“Stop being so stupid,” Bryn said. She squeezed his wound together with what felt like the same force Ravyn used to inflict it and wrenched a groan from his gut. He stared hard at the ebony walls surrounding him. Shivering, bloody designs cast by the torches’ red flames danced upon the exquisite angles.

“Sometimes I wonder why Enar doesn’t find a way to off you just because of your weakness for that stupid girl. Don’t you see what she’s done to you? Just a few moments more, one more strike from her, and you would be dead. And then where would we all be? It’s brainless, you risking her ending your life just because you won’t take hers.”

Rhynon ground his teeth and snared Bryn by her slender neck. Her skin felt cool and smooth like snakeskin under his fingers. He wondered about her mother, a woman he figured shared similarities to his own. Bryn glared down at him. Her silver eyes soaked up all his thoughts, he was sure. She grinned and he quivered with the hate he felt for her. He tightened his fingers under her narrow jaw.

“You hurt me and Enar will have a pertinent part of you for a meal, main course,” she said. Her voice hissed in her compressed windpipe.

Anger coursed through Rhynon. It took every ounce of his will to keep from crushing her throat. But he couldn’t and he knew it. His new father lurked at the back of his mind, watching, waiting to siege control of Rhynon if he lost control of himself. And Rhynon knew, in crushing Bryn’s throat, he would weaken his own. He let go.

Bryn landed hard on her tail and a sharp yelp escaped her constricted lips. Rhynon chuckled, but only a little. The pain in his sliced organs halted him. He wondered if Bryn really would heal him like Enar ordered.

“Not by my choice,” Bryn said, answering the question from his thoughts. She smoothed her always-messy hair from her face. “But like you, I don’t dare cross him.”

Rhynon followed Bryn and her snotty little saunter across the elaborately carved room with his gaze. He pondered her last comment. She was a sneaky little brat, a puppet for Enar, but he couldn’t help wonder if she was beginning to play Enar as he had played her from the time she was born.

At the arched entrance, where a thin strand of crimson daylight reached into the hollowed mountain of Enar’s fortress, Bryn faced him and winked one shimmering eye.

 “Not yet anyway,” she said and disappeared from sight.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Hushed voices echoed from all around, the source invisible and distant. Kyle blinked to clear his darkened vision but gained no avail. Ravyn lay atop him, her breathing shallow and paced. She slipped free of his grip to the hard surface supporting him. He remembered falling, rolling and tumbling in the air, Ravyn tight in his arms, but everything after had vanished from his mind. The ethereal voices grew louder, filled his ears and mind.

 “You okay?” Ravyn said.

The mystifying mutterings snapped to complete silence as if Ravyn flipped a switch. She brushed her cold fingers over his face and shoulders. Kyle held still, waiting to hear the murmurs again, wanting to hear them so he knew the beings weren’t close, but the quiet reigned strong.

“Kyle?” Ravyn whispered. She pressed her hand to his cheek. He gripped her fingers to let her know he was there and in one piece.

 “I’m fine,” he said.

He pressed his thumbs to his aching eyes. When he opened them again, he couldn’t deny everything was completely wrong. He stared up into obscurity and knew he wasn’t anywhere near where he should be. He was no longer in the cold cabin in the mountains of New York, no longer standing with Ravyn against the table in front of the woman with the glittering gown and flowing hair. He lay on his back, but no pain racked his body and no water swallowed him. He was not in Tiernaine.

Glowing faces swam forward in the blackness like apparitions of the dead. Their features somehow formed even in the shadows descending from all angles. Kyle stared at them, too conscious he lacked a weapon.

“What happened?” he said. “Where are we?”

“No clue, but I bet that woman knows,” Ravyn said. She slid her hand over his arm for a fleeting moment then the chill of her skin and the warmth of her breath vanished and he knew she rose to her feet, moving as sleekly as always.

The bitter cold Kyle had suffered for the last few days oozed from his skin, eaten up by the warmth emanating from the floor. He wiped his damp face and struggled to reorient himself. He listened for the nearly silent sounds of Ravyn’s motions. She swore from somewhere to his right. He reached for her but caught nothing more than fistfuls of air.

“Where are you, lady?” she said. All the faces turned to her as if she a magnet and they metal.

Kyle kneeled and pressed his fingertips against the smooth floor. The darkness swam around him. He closed his eyes to fight off the vertigo and slowly stood. The lack of light smothered him almost as completely as the warm waters of Tiernaine but, despite the inflicted blindness, he had to find Ravyn. He had to calm her down so they could somehow figure out what happened.

“You have no right!” Ravyn said. Her words echoed from invisible walls. “Where are you? Show yourself!”

Kyle stepped toward her. The faces along the walls turned to each other again and the quiet hum of voices filled the room.

“Ravyn,” Kyle said. He reached out, felt the bare skin of her arm, still cold and damp from battle. She pulled away.

“She did it, Kyle. And I’m not going to let her.” Ravyn said. “I told her to let us be!”

He’d never heard her voice so low, like a growl. Ravyn addressed the room. Her silhouette blocked Kyle’s view of the brightening beings.

“Put us back! Who gave you the right to bring us here?”

“I only wish to speak with you.” The soothing voice drifted from somewhere near.

 

 

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From the author:

 

Yes, I posted much more of an excerpt for The Unseen, Book One.  I considered doing the same here, but can't without revealing too much for those who have yet to read Book One.  The good news is, Scattered Souls is within a couple weeks of being released, as of today, February 25th, so no one will have to wait much longer :)

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ŠT.C. McMullen
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