Earth begins to heal with the passage of time. It starts with the land, different than the last time, when life began in the sea. Shadow’s twins, Morgan and Michaela, have come a long way, but their paths have diverged. Michaela is air and dragon, making her home in the mountains. While on the coast, Morgan is water and leviathan. He is drawn to The Old Writings, to tales of mages, black, white, and gray. He seeks to gain respect for the black mages of the past—which they’ve never had—by creating life. If he can do that, he believes he can become a deity and earn the respect long denied him.
Shadow is unexpectedly drawn into a situation she cannot control, and only the aid of Ghost keeps her from certain death. To the others, she has simply vanished. Her disappearance hits Dodger hard, and he leaves everyone behind, including his oldest friend, Raz. In the wake of Dodger’s absence, Raz discovers his own destiny, and he doesn’t shirk in doing his duty.
Morgan’s anger—and his overwhelming desire to create life—threaten the future of a world that is trying to heal and move on from its past. Is history doomed to be repeated? Has humankind learned nothing? Is all lost, or will a savior rise to save Earth from destruction?
Forcing someone to come with me in public is out of the question. I need someone alone and willing.
The half-orc bartender asked, “What’ll it be?”
“What do you recommend for a lonely guy?”
“Mixed Company.” The bartender quickly mixed and set a drink in front of him, then walked away.
“Thanks, and keep them coming.”
The bartender nodded, then walked back to the other end of the bar and prodded a drunken dwarf that was beginning to snore.
Morgan let his gaze follow one of the servers on her usual rounds, then he felt someone warm press up against the left side of his body.
A soft voice whispered in his ear, “She’s not what you’re looking for.”
“What?” He turned toward the voice and met a pair of dark eyes in a pretty human face.
The brunette sat on the stool beside him. “I said, she’s not your type. I’m Jenna.”
“And you are?”
“I can be whatever woman you need. If you like it slow and easy, that’s me.” She rested her hand on his thigh. “If you like it fast and rough, that’s me, too. If the credits are there.”
“They are. Sounds like you could make a lonely night a lot more interesting.”
“That I can,” Jenna whispered. “Care to put me to the test?”
“Any place special in mind?”
“Yours will do just fine.”
He waved the card over the bar scanner and slipped his arm around her waist as he stood. “Shall we?”
Morgan escorted her to his car and held the door for her. Then he climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. She gently stroked his free hand as he drove toward his house. “I like that.”
Jenna leaned closer and brushed her lips against his ear. “There’s so much more where that came from.” She licked his ear lobe. “What do you have planned for me?”
He pulled into his driveway, shut down the engine, and looked at her. “Something I’ll find quite pleasurable. Care to join me inside?” After getting out of the car, he went to the other side of the car and opened the door for her. “Just go to the door, and I’ll be right there.”
She walked slowly toward the house.
He secured the car and caught up to her at the front door. He unlocked it and stepped aside so she could pass. “Ladies first.” When she was inside, he closed the door and quietly locked it.
He debated in his mind whether he should physical force on her or just a spell. He touched her hair as he made up his mind. “Somnum.” The woman collapsed into his arms. He carried her into the kitchen and laid her on the table. “And now to hold you in place. Habere.” He leaned against the counter and waited patiently for her to wake up.
Jenna slowly opened her eyes, then looked around.
Morgan moved to stand where she could see him. “Sorry, sweetheart, but I have to take a life before I can try and create one.”
Her fear-filled gaze locked on him, as she opened her mouth to scream, but her voice was gone. She looked at him in terror.
“Now, my pretty Jenna.” Morgan gently brushed away the tear trickling down her cheek with his thumb. “We don’t want any crying, do we?” He leaned close. “Magic will be a much better death. Pugione in cor.” An invisible dagger plunged into her heart.
She stopped struggling, and her eyes rolled back into her head. She died before his eyes.
Morgan lifted her from the table and carried her to the end of the dock. “Water, come.” As the sea swirled around his hand, he commanded, “Give life.” The lack of response baffled him. He pictured her alive in his mind and willed her to live. “Breathe. Make life.” Again, nothing. The denial of his desire earned his wrath. “Take her to the leviathan to devour.” The water swept her body and blood from the dock and into the depths. His hunger for the ability to create life amplified tenfold.
When he returned to the house, he scowled at the blood on the table and opted to clean it manually in hopes of disbursing his anger. Wait, I failed with a human. Perhaps a different race? As he cleaned up the bloody evidence, he made plans to try again in a few months. He couldn’t have too many people turning up missing or dead too soon. It could mean trouble for him.
For five years Morgan continued experimenting, and his tests led to failure after failure. Race-wise, half-elf and half-orc weren’t much different from the human, while elf, dwarf, and orc proved to have a better stamina. Gender-wise, it was a fifty-fifty split between the six females and six males. Overall, not a single race or gender showed any potential for reanimation.
His inability to create life with magic frustrated him. With the sea, his ability to create was almost boundless. Bringing life into existence and reanimation were his only limits He remembered how in The Old Writings the black mage was never loved, never respected, never more than darkness. He wanted to change that. He wanted the black mage to be equal to the white and gray mages. Creating life was a sign of a deity and when he figured out how to create life, he’d be a deity.
Morgan watched as a certain couple made several trips to the coast in an attempt to locate him. Each time they found the same thing—nothing. Concealed from the world. He grinned coldly. Finally, no more overbearing parental figures.
* * * *
Sadness settled over Justinus as the scene from the well faded. “Oh dearest child, do you now know your potential?” He knew the child’s connection to the leviathan was also a connection to Leandra’s hate and rage. The former black mage’s hatred and fury burned inside Morgan. It darkened him, hardened him, and made him who he was at the moment. Justinus only hoped that when the child recognized what caused him to be dark, he would choose to turn away rather than stay on that path. The world couldn’t handle a second black mage on a rampage.