8/24/20: The Convergence series is now complete. Wolfmother has been removed in its entirety for publishing. These are sample chapters only. The complete series is now only available in ebook and paperback. Please see my blog to find how you can obtain a copy of the Convergence series.
"Are you in there?"
Was it going to be another one of those days?
Some days he would respond and almost be coherent, speaking of a mysterious voice that tormented him before his capture. Other days were worse, and though he was there, he could not focus or respond to any direct questions. Mad ravings and jumbled memories would pour out and drain away all her hope.
And then there were the silent days.
"Please. Please, say something," she pleaded while wringing her hands in her lap.
The mirror remained dark. Only the faint outline of her reflection graced the surface, but beneath that, there was nothing.
"Lord Anshar, please say something. I need to hear your voice," she tried again in despair as tears threatened the corners of her eyes.
"Halea?" came the voice in the mirror, and pity wrenched at her heart. He sounded so tired. So very tired.
"Yes! Yes, it's me, Lord Anshar. How are you feeling today? Please show yourself. It's been weeks now, and I just want to know that you're okay."
"Why won't you come to me, Halea?"
She bit her lip in frustration. It was going to be another bad day.
"I can't, Lord Anshar. You're in the dark mirror, and I can't reach you, but I can see you. Please let me see you."
"They're tearing me apart. My blood! I can smell it. It's everywhere. Their blood. Their eyes. It's on my hands. I can't get the smell of their blood off my hands. I need you. Where are you? Please, I need you!" he called, and with every word, his voice grew louder, more frantic, more unhinged.
"Shh. Shh. I'm here. I'm here. I'm with you. It's okay. No one is hurting you. Please let me see you. There's no blood. I know there isn't. Please, just let me see you."
Something moved beneath the surface of the mirror, and a form came within view.
It was him.
"I can see you! Yes, I can see you. You're okay. See, no one is hurting you. You're safe."
"There is blood."
"No. No, there is no blood. Don't you believe me?"
His vacant eyes looked up from his trembling hands. Within the mirror dimension, a shimmering surface reflected his surroundings. Usually, it only showed his own morose visage, but now he could see her looking back at him, and his face hardened at what he saw.
"Don't look at me like that, Halea! Please. I can't stand your pity!" he growled, suddenly remembering why he couldn't bear to show himself. He was hurting her. He was making her sad, and it was his fault.
He began to step back.
"No! No, please don't leave, Lord Anshar! Stay with me. We can talk about pleasant things. We can talk about…" she paused, struggling to dredge up some happy memory from their past.
"Do you remember before I became a priestess when everyone was gathered for the New Year prayer, and I was running so late because I fell asleep after our training? Gods, you wore me out, ya know? I mean, really, it was kind of your fault. I came running into the chapel and slammed into Senior Cleric Edgar and knocked him over, and then he knocked over the whole back row of devotees. Everyone was staring at me, and I'm sure my face was red. Mama Dragon was trying so hard not to laugh, and Grandfather was embarrassed and trying to pretend like he didn't know me. You just gave me this exasperated look and shook your head, and High Priestess Maven jumped up and dragged me back out of the chapel by my ear and scolded the life out of me."
"Everyone was trying so hard to keep a straight face, even me," he added, and his voice sounded lighter as if the threat of mirth was tempting him from the shadows. "I heard her slap you from the hall."
And then it was gone.
"She hurt you. That, I remember. You were still just a girl. You couldn't heal yet, and Maven didn't know her own strength. Your face was bruised for a week," he recalled, and suddenly the mirth was gone, and his face grew dark with anger.
"It wasn't that bad, really. I did deserve it." she anxiously tried to backtrack as the fond memory soured.
It was no use. He remembered it all. He remembered the smell of tears on her face as she was dragged back into the chapel in shame. He remembered taking Maven aside after the services and admonishing her for being too harsh on someone who was still just a child and not yet a priestess. It was an accident, and Senior Cleric Edgar should have known better than to stand so close to the chapel door. He remembered trying to comfort her the next day and asking her to spar again in an attempt to cheer her up. She loved sparring with him. She was so happy when they were outside together in the gardens. Her eyes would glow. He missed those days.
He missed her.
"What happened to us, Halea? We used to be so close. I've never been as close to anyone as I was with you. You were the only one who saw me for what I was, and yet you never hated me for it. Why?"
"Lord Anshar, please. You didn't deserve to be hated."
"That's not true!" he shouted. "I failed everyone, including you. My weakness is why your mother is dead, Halea. That was me! That was all my fault because I couldn't stand to do my duty. I hate what I am, Halea. I hate what I was forced to be – a servant. My whole life that is all I have ever been, and I hated every damn moment of it. And you! You knew! You knew the truth. You should have turned from me when you had the chance. You should have hated me as I deserved. Instead, you made me love you. Is this my punishment? To be denied the only thing I've ever loved. So be it."
"Lord Anshar," she sobbed as unrestrained tears shed from her eyes.
"I know why you're here! You think you can convince me to serve again. You want me to stop the next convergence, but I will not. You know what would be required of me. I see clearly now where I am, trapped in this accursed dimension of Tiamet's own creation. Caged like an animal. But within this cage, no one will control me. No one will bend me to their will. Here, I am no longer compelled by the voice from the Chaos or from Tiamet. Here, there is only silence and my tortured mind. As long as I am trapped here, no one can use me, and I shall never be controlled against my will again, not even by you. Go! I can't bear the sadness in your eyes."
"But I don't want…"
"Hear this, Halea. I swear upon the gods, I shall never again perform a sacrifice. Now, go!"
Halea jumped to her feet and stormed out of the room, slamming the heavy wooden door behind her.
Lord Anshar watched her flee from within the mirror and clenched his fists in resolve.
"Whether it remakes the world or utterly destroys it; let the convergence come. I can't save you, but at least I will not be the one to kill you. I'm sorry. I know you think there might be another way, but there isn't. I tried," he thought as his image faded from the surface of the mirror.
A note from your humble author: I'm baaaaaack! Sorry for the long hiatus, but I was very busy editing book 2 and getting it ready for publication, but don't worry, I got some writing done too. As with the last book, I will be posting a new chapter every other Friday.
So what did you guys think of this chapter? Lord Anshar's still pretty damn crazy. I'm sure this chapter gave all my #teamanshar's the feels.