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Authors: Nicole R. Taylor

The Awakening

BOOK: The Awakening
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The Awakening (#4 in the
Witch Hunter Saga)

Copyright
© 2014 Nicole R. Taylor

Kindle Edition – published 2014

 

All rights reserved.  No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where
permitted by law.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living
or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 
 
 
 
 

There's
a thing I like to call it, brother,
When you fight, and you kill,
You're at war with each other,
It's the end of the world.

 
 

PROLOGUE

 
 

Coraline expected
the air to smell of death, as a witch was able to sense these things, but it
was full of grass and rain. But as if that bode well for her future.

She pulled her coat
closed and shivered. It wasn't particularly cold, but the air was unsteady and
full of mist. Maximus stood beside her, the warmth of his body comforting.
Taking her hand, he squeezed.

Why Max still
moonlighted as a priest was beyond her, considering the things he'd seen. His
hold over his faith was admirable, as was his devotion to her considering she was
a witch. A few hundred years ago, his brothers would have burned her alive.

They stood by their
rental car, looking across the field at their destination, trying to decide the
best course of action. Ireland really was a spectacular country, but Coraline
couldn't focus on that. Bigger things required her attention.

Brú na
Bóinne was a tomb. Presently protected by Ireland's National Trust and
closed to visitors, but as if that would stop them. Coraline couldn't make them
invisible to anyone watching, but she could render them negligible.

On the outside it
looked like a large, unnatural looking hill, but underneath it was a warren of
tunnels and chambers. It really was an impressive sight, the ancient monolith
built by people long dead. Did they know what was hidden below? What about the
people who studied it now? Of course they didn't. The place crawled with power.
Concealments, traps, wards. The air crackled with them.

The grey sky and
the heavy air didn't do much to cheer her up, knowing what they could possibly
be facing inside. If it wasn't the Original Witch, then who was it? The vampire
Zac had told them that the last Roman founder, Regulus, had hinted it was
something else. The thought of the unknown scared her.

"Come on
Corrie," Maximus said. "The sooner we're in, the sooner we're
out."

"I know."

"Think about
the nice hot meal we'll have tonight when we find nothing inside."

"Max..."
she began, but he pulled her across the road and into the field. Dropping
the spell over them, she had no choice but to follow. He was right, after all.

There was no one
around this time of morning. They were up even before the birds. As they
approached the entrance the air electrified with the tang of power.

"Do you feel
that?" she asked Maximus, knowing that he couldn't. He was human.

"It feels
strange here," he said, surprising her. "Like a creepy old house
that's full of ghosts."

He wasn't far
wrong. Archaeologists would have removed a lot of the bones within, but their
energy would still remain. Perhaps that was what he was picking up on.

A modern door had
been placed in the opening and breaking the lock was easy. Maximus pushed it
open and shone a torch into the blackness within, revealing a narrow tunnel
into the hill. Every so often an opening presented itself, a round hole of
black against the white light of the torch.

Reluctantly,
Coraline followed him inside.

"Where do we
look?" he asked in a whisper.

"Below,"
she replied. "Alisandra's grimoire spoke of tunnels beneath the
surface." She didn't know why she spoke of it as Alisandra's grimoire
still. The Hunter, Aeriaya, had torn the Matriarch to pieces and it was now in
the hybrid's possession.

All Coraline had to
do to find the entrance to the sub-terrain was follow the wards. They had a
strange tang to them, almost metallic. Definitely not cast by a normal witch or
even one of the Coven. Perhaps it was pure Celestine magic?

The entrance was a
narrow opening inside one of the tombs, with a staircase that lead down. It was
set in plain sight, but anyone without a sense of power would only be able to
see a blank wall.

"Here,"
she said, leading Maximus by the hand. He was used to it by now, so when he
passed through the ward, he didn't flinch. Walking through solid walls was a
normal every day occurrence when she was around.

As they wound their
way further and further underground, the air became cold as they passed through
layers of clay and bedrock. When they finally reached the bottom, it wasn't
exactly what they were expecting.

"What
the…" Max breathed.

The tunnel opened
out into a small chamber, lined with smooth rock, like someone had melted it
into shape. Two tunnels opened up on either side and they looked to be just the
same.

"Tuatha."

"Who?"

"You know the
old stories of Ireland, Max," she said, keeping her voice low. "The
Tuatha de Danann were a race of fae. Creatures of power like the Celestines.
They built this place."

"What do they
have to do with the Original Witch?"

She looked at him
pointedly. "Everything."

The question of
which tunnel they should take, left or right, was abruptly answered for them
when Coraline felt a dull boom shift the air. Her head snapped to the left as a
sick feeling of dread sunk in her stomach.

"Corrie?"

"You felt
that?" she asked, not taking her eyes off the dark opening.

"Yeah."

"C'mon,"
she said, swallowing her fear and walked head first into the darkness.

After a short
while, the tunnel opened out into a natural cavern. Stalactites hung from
the ceiling and reflected off the rock walls in all directions, the slow drip
of water the only sound that echoed back to them. As her eyes raked over the
floor, she put a hand up to stop Max behind her.

At the opposite end
stood a man.

His back was to
them, but she could see that he was dressed in strange clothing. Not modern at
all, his shirt looked to be hand woven and dyed in a myriad of blue. He was
tall, lean, muscled and stood so still it was if he was made out of marble. He
was standing over a body, which could only mean one thing.

Coraline didn't
have to see his face to understand what he was.

Hybrid
.

They had failed and
the Coven had won. The ritual had completed after all.

She placed a finger
over her lips and Max nodded. Somehow, she knew they'd already been made. Her
heart thumped a million miles an hour and her spell couldn't cover that.
Besides, the hybrid was standing so still because he was
listening
to
them.

She took a slow
step back towards the tunnel and, as if to confirm her fear, the man's head
snapped up. Their only option now was to run.

Max pushed her in
front of him and they ran headlong down the tunnel, back towards the staircase.
If they could get back through the wards, maybe it would be enough to slow him
down. They were there to keep him in, they had to be.

There was a scream
behind her and she knew that he had Max. Skidding to a halt, she turned, the
torch lighting up the tunnel behind. The hybrid had him on the ground, mauling
his neck like a rabid animal.

"Run,"
Max gurgled through a mouthful of blood and she dropped the torch in horror.

She stumbled
forward blindly, too terrified to call on her power for light, the horrible
growling of the hybrid echoing after her. Deep down, Coraline knew she wasn't
going to get out. Deep down, she knew this was the end.

She had enough time
to type a text on her cell and send it to Zac before she felt the vampire
behind her. Whirling around, she called on her power, her hand coming to rest
on the hybrid's heaving chest, but nothing happened.

His manic laughter
bounced around the cave and she felt his hands around her throat. With her last
shred of strength she cast a light over the room, revealing his face. As he
bared his fangs and went to sink them into her jugular, she sent an image to
the one person she was able.

 
 

CHAPTER
ONE

 
 

Awakening.

It felt like he'd been asleep for longer than he
should have. His limbs felt heavy, like they had lost all feeling and when he
tried to move, nothing happened. All he felt was the rage that had been his
last waking memory before blackness.

Unconsciousness.

It was such a strange word to describe this kind of
slumber. He knew it wasn't natural and it made him burn with anger. He could
scarcely remember why, thought it had felt like he'd just closed his eyes
moments ago.

The biting metallic taste of magic burnt in the
back of his throat and somehow he knew Isolde had something to do with this.
Isolde, his stepmother Aiofe's witch had turned his sisters into monsters and
saved him for last.

With a cry of twisted anguish, he sat bolt upright,
his eyes opening for the first time. Everything seemed more defined, the
strange blue of the rock that surrounded him sparkled with sunlight from a
shaft in the ceiling that climbed upwards to the surface. Nature had claimed
back this place and he knew that his father would never have allowed it. That
could only mean one thing.

Gasping for breath, he covered his watering eyes.
His heart thumped a thousand beats a minute. On beat, off beat, double beat...

"My Lord?"

His head snapped up at the sound of a
female voice. A pretty young thing stood beside what could only be described as
his tomb. She was all ivory skin and flaming red hair and he knew she was one
of them. One of the humans who'd lived in this land before his people came, but
she was dressed in strange clothing he'd never seen before.

"My Lord?" she asked again.
It was then he realized that it was not only his heartbeat he was hearing, it
was also hers. Once he'd fixated on the sound he couldn't hear anything else.
He saw the vein in her exposed neck pulsing and he suddenly felt hollow inside.
Remembering the first taste of blood, he began to understand what had happened
to him.

He shot across the room faster than
he thought possible, feeling as stiff and sore as he was. The woman let out a gasp
as he pushed her against the wall, pressing her tiny body into the rock. His
pale fingers bit into the skin of her neck, searching for the vein and she
cried out in pain.

"How long?" he asked,
barely recognizing his own voice.

"Three thousand years."

He dropped her, drawing a sharp
breath as her words sunk in. Had it truly been three thousand years? That
bitch
Aoife, had trapped him in a tomb for three thousand years?

"What of this world?"

"The world has changed in a
million different ways."

"Show me." He grabbed her
again, this time sinking his fangs into her skin. The blood would show him what
he needed...and if she was telling the truth.

She let out a surprised gasp as her
flesh tore, but she didn't struggle. Warm blood filled his mouth and he swallowed,
strength returning to his frozen body. He was inundated with strange
words and sounds...and he began to understand them all, just as the woman did.
The world had changed, magic had declined and creatures that once walked proud
now slunk in the shadows of the underworld.

He was a prince of the Tuatha de
Danann. A vampire, a fae, creature of power and he could read her blood like a
book. The human world dominated and it was the ultimate insult. They'd changed
the world with their buildings, technology…war. They were a blight on a land
that was once rife with all kinds of life. Humanity…how it reeked with hatred.

He drank the woman's blood until
there was no more, her heart beat slowing until it was no more and he let her
lifeless body drop to the floor. What was he to do now? Aoife was long
dead and with her any chance of revenge. It was the Celestine who'd betrayed
his family and if there was a Celestine left alive, he would find them.

If what the blood had shown him was true, then his
kind were gone. Dead. Extinct. He wasn't one of them anymore. He was
something else. Thinking about the word he'd gleaned from the woman's blood, he
smiled to himself. Vampire. What a strange name.

It was then that he heard sound coming from the
tunnel that adjoined his tomb and he cast out his hearing. After Isolde had
changed him, he hadn't had time to adjust to the thing that she'd made him
into. He remembered his vision had been clearer, every sound sharper and every
emotion that had coursed though him ten times more potent. Food did nothing for
him anymore, only blood.
Blood
. The sweetest thing he'd ever tasted.

Focusing on his surrounds, he realized he wasn't
alone. Someone else was coming. A witch and a human and their eyes were on him
with an intensity that suggested he was a beast from the Underworld. Perhaps he
was. All he wanted was to feed. If he was to venture to the surface of the new
world, he would need his strength and all the information he could get.

The thrumming of their heartbeats assaulted his
ears and it only told him one thing. They were afraid. So they should be.

Then they were running. He laughed at the
pointlessness of it all and walked across the cavern. Darting forward, he was
on the man before he could blink twice, dragging him down to the ground sinking
his fangs into flesh. The man screamed as pain took him, but he wasn't
listening to that. As blood ran down his throat, he was inundated with the most
curious images.

"Run," the man gurgled and the woman, the
witch
, turned and started to flee down the tunnel.

No heartbeat came from beneath him, so he followed
the woman, wondering what her blood had to say. Grasping her arm, he turned her
around to face him, saw the terror in her eyes and felt nothing. His fangs
ached to taste more, so he ripped into the vein in her neck, a hand over her
mouth to stifle her annoying screams. Screaming seemed to be a common
denominator and he was annoyed already.

As the witch's body began to slacken, he let the
visions come and what he saw surprised him. Witches, vampires, a powerful coven
descended from Isolde… She'd lived? The bitch that made him had lived while he
was trapped down here? He dropped the witch's body and held his aching head in
his hands. What had he done to deserve this? He'd done nothing but be his father's
son. He'd been used along with his sisters. His sisters…if they were trapped
like he had been, he would find them and bring them back and together they
would build a new kingdom. The Tuatha would rise again, this time more powerful
than before. This time they were
immortal
.

His eyes focused again, the pain from the visions
subsiding and he focused on his surroundings. The witch was mutilated beyond
recognition. Had he done that? He supposed he had. There was a curious object
lying in a pool of blood and he knelt down to peer at it. Picking up the
rectangular slab of metal and plastic he now knew was called a mobile phone, he
turned it over and looked at the glowing screen. Curious. It
 began to make a shrill ringing sound and he
squashed it in his hand, shattering it into pieces.

There was one vision that had stuck with him from
both the man and the witch. A strange woman with blue eyes and raven hair that
the blood told him was a hybrid like him. A
Celestine
hybrid. How
strange that she would look like she did.

Aoife had been silver haired and blue eyed. Her
skin had shimmered like a pearl from the ocean, a rare beauty. This
Celestine had been quite opposite. Her hair was black as the night sky that the
stars hung from, not the silver that a star should shine with. She had the same
ice blue eyes as Aoife, the same eyes that hid the secrets of the universe.

He was full of blood and a hunger for revenge he
couldn't fathom. If this Celestine hybrid was still alive, he would find her.
He would find her and make her pay.

The sun was low in the sky when he finally decided
he should go outside. The wards around the Tuatha's tunnels were annoying, but
didn't stop him from entering the human tomb above and following the scent of sun-warmed
grass to the surface. Emerging into the light for the first time in three
thousand years, his eyes stung and he held an arm across his face. The grounds
were silent, apart from the wind rustling through the grass.

The air was crisp, despite the patchy sun and he
assumed it was winter, or close to. He knew from the blood he'd ingested from
the vampire woman and the witch that sunlight was lethal to vampires, but it
didn't bother him in the slightest. Scanning the countryside, he saw the road
and the car where the witch and the human priest had left it. In an instant it
seemed he'd crossed the field and was standing by the machine and he marveled
at his strength and speed. He'd been changed less than a day before Aoife had
sealed him away and it was like he'd just been born.

There was nothing of use in the car and he didn't
like the idea of trying to master its operation, so he began walking down the
strange black tar road in search of civilization. It wasn't long before he
heard the rumble of a live vehicle approaching from behind and it passed him by
in a gust of cool air. It was a different shape and color and red lights
appeared on the rear.

The vehicle slowed before stopping a short distance
ahead and a young human male emerged. He looked down at himself and realized
his clothing was nothing more than rags, eroded away by time and he was covered
in blood that had begun to dry and flake. Not exactly attire fit for a fae
prince and especially not for the only son of Lir.

"Hey," the man exclaimed, jogging down
the road toward him. "Are you okay? Do you need some help?"

He looked the man up and down and decided he was a
good match. Same height, similar build. Grasping the front of the human's
shirt, he pulled him close and snarled, "Give me your clothes."

The man's expression slackened into a vacant stare
and he began stripping.
Curious
. He didn't know he could make the humans
do things. That was an unexpected boon. It reminded him of Isolde and her
ability to control people's minds. They'd had the same reaction to her power,
though he suspected she had to cast some kind of spell. He'd just willed it and
so it was.

Gathering up the man's clothes, he began to walk
away down the road, but as an afterthought turned back. "Now, forget you
ever saw me."

The human nodded and while the going was good, he
disappeared into the field, leaving the man to wonder why he was naked on the
side of the road. The thought amused him more than it should.

The sounds of a fast flowing river reached him long
before he found the source. Stripping his ancient shirt and trousers off, he
waded into the water and ducked his head under, washing the dirt and blood away
with a handful of gravel from the bottom. He scrubbed until his pale, dead skin
was pink. As the carnage he'd wrought underground washed away, swirling in
the whirlpool of the swift current, he wondered how he was going to get to
Briton. Boat or one of those airplane machines. Taking one of those ferries
from the city called Dublin seemed the less likely to cause him annoyance. The
humans were so suspicious of one another that they needed pieces of paper with
their photographs to go anywhere.

Letting his fingers trail in the icy water, he
thought about his family. What had happened to his sisters? Fionnuala and
the twins, Fiachra and Conn… He had no idea where they might be hidden or if
they were still alive. They hadn't deserved their fate, none of them did. And
what of his father, Lir? His wrath would have been extraordinary when he
realized what Aoife had done. He hoped his father had killed her and made a
spectacle out of it.

Wading out of the river, he tossed his filthy rags
away, watching them float downstream while he dressed in the modern clothing
he'd stolen. The material felt strange against his skin, coarse and heavy and
he wondered how he would get something a little more refined. Perhaps he'd find
out when he reached Dublin.

He was going to have a lot of fun in this new world
and he found himself wishing Siobhan was here to share it with him. But his
love was long dead and another he wanted to avenge. He never got to say
goodbye, but he never got to say it to anyone.

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