Tempest (Wings of War Book 3)

By: Karen Hopkins

Chapter 1

And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 9:11

My head rested on Sawyer’s muscled arm and his body curved around me protectively. The occasional chirping of a whip-poor-will outside the cabin intermingled with the hushed voices of Sir Austin, Youmi and Horas in the other room. I knew Insepth was already asleep on the couch. I’d tried to reach him in my mind earlier, but had been greeted with his rumbling snore.

My Watcher sense drifted out the bedroom window into the crisp autumn darkness. I found Ivan stalking the woods behind the cabin in wolf form. Lutz was with him. The bear’s heavy steps on dry leaves crunched loudly and I smiled into the pillow. It was difficult to imagine the giant bear sneaking up on anyone successfully.

I stopped when I found Eae. He was still sitting on the ground at the edge of Ila’s garden. A shard of moonlight sliced through the night down on him. His head was bowed, his eyes tightly shut. Was he praying? I wasn’t sure, but it bothered me that he had been rooted in the same place for hours.

I contemplated disengaging from Sawyer’s gloriously warm body to talk with the Angel again. When I’d visited him before, he’d sat as stoically as he was now, listening to my bombardment of questions, but answering none of them. He had replied, “I’m sorry. I will explain these things to you in time. I’m severed from my homeland. I do not feel God’s touch anymore.” I had reached out to touch his shoulder, but he’d flinched away.

I held my breath as Sawyer stirred against me. When he didn’t wake, I exhaled slowly. Eae had refused my offer to help, preferring to suffer his wounds while they went through the natural and gradual process of healing. It was some sort of penance, I was sure. I was at least thankful he’d allowed Ivan to rub some of Ila’s herbal salve over the wounds, even though it bothered me that the Angel trusted a Growler more than the person he guarded.

I could hardly blame him for his feelings after what the Watchers had done to him, but I wasn’t Insepth, Sir Austin or Youmi. I was different from them. It would take time to prove to Eae that we were on the same side, though. Which side was that? I shook my head in the darkness. I still didn’t know, and the obsessive questioning of myself was one of the things keeping me awake. The other was Piper. I kept seeing her round, laughing face every time I closed my eyes.

I sniffed, pushing the memories of my friend away and scanning the meadow with my inner sight until I found Cricket. She lifted her head from the dew-soaked grass and nickered. The nearest goats scattered when the black horse stomped her hoof. She was displeased. Cricket didn’t like when my mind dipped into hers. I never doubted her affection for me, but she was fiercely independent and didn’t bother to hide her resentment when I spied on her. My previous glimpses into her mind told me that she thought horses were superior to humans.

Cricket snorted into the cold air and a jet of mist shot from her nostrils. It was her way of telling me to go to sleep.

The mare trotted after the goats and something wet touched my hand. I opened my eyes to find Angus staring at me. I sank my fingers into the German Shepherd’s fur and he thumped his tail on the floor. With my hand still resting on his head, he sank down beside the bed. Sleep, Angus said. Perhaps it was just my crazy imagination creating the communication in my mind, but it might have been real. I could no longer deny the possibility of such a thing in this world of magic, monsters, Angels, and Demons I’d come to know. Anything and everything was possible.

I closed my eyes, forcing deeper breaths into my lungs, until I slipped into the muddled, dark place of almost sleep. I embraced the wobbly feeling. The Watchers and Growlers were keeping sentry. I was safe to go to that place of nothingness for a little while at least.

But when the cool dreamland breeze brushed my skin and I saw wide-trunked trees rising up into the starless sky, I realized with a pounding heart that I wasn’t safe at all.

Then I saw the glowing red eyes. How stupid of me, I thought, as my bare feet dug into the slippery, decaying leaves and I broke into a run.

I knew this place. Burned and broken boards jutted angrily from the scorched ground, and nothing stirred beneath the bare branches.

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