About the Book
Aquila: From the Darkness
Author: T.L. Searle
Released: September 2013
Series: Name #
Genre: Urban Fantasy
I try to skip the party but Robyn coerces me, almost dislocating my shoulder dragging me from my room. We are to wear our new uniforms. Spares have been delivered and have filled the single dresser in my room. It amuses me that I used to be concerned about the lack of wardrobe at home; at least there I had a choice of what to wear. In the Guard, I’ll never escape black leather. I am finally in a place where I can wear little strappy tops and flowing maxi dresses with my wings nestled in the open – and I’m confined to constant leather bustieres and crop tops. It gripes me, even if it is a hot look.
The party is in the dining hall. For the first time I can hear music floating through the mountain. The rhythm softens me and I find myself picking up my pace. We enter the great hall into a mass of bodies. The tables have been moved to the sides of the room creating a dance floor in the centre. Hundreds of angeli sway and twirl as the soft notes of a string quintet fill the atmosphere. The angeli playing are dressed in lilac dresses and trouser suits, like the tutors in the school.
Robyn proceeds to pull me through crowds, introducing me to countless names and faces. I don’t remember one when she finally lets me rest. It feels wrong. I’ve been here a month and no one has spoken to me. Now I wear the uniform of the Guard they suddenly all know my name, all want me to know theirs. I’ve never known a larger group of charlatans.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm, the time passes quickly. I see Liam a few times, patrolling the perimeter of the celebrations. He never seems to be off duty, even when he has down time he maintains his awareness, is always on Guard. It surprises me that I know these things about him. I haven’t tried to take notice of him; I’ve actually spent as much time avoiding him as possible. Maybe August’s stories have had an impact, giving more of an insight.
August, incidentally, hasn’t shown. I can only assume he stayed with Oberon. I spend most of the evening sitting at a table and people-watching, I refuse to dance every time someone offers. Pretty soon no one bothers.
The hall starts to disperse as the sun begins to rise over the mountain. I join Robyn and Lucas on the veranda to watch its ascent. Sunrise on the mountain is always beautiful. The light glides along the rock, chasing away the dark and igniting colour. The snow glimmers like crystal. The radiance penetrates deep into my pores and I feel warmed, happy. Until I remember that sunrise means a new day, and so it is tomorrow – and Aaron will be woken – and it may kill me.
“How did you find your graduation?” Lucas breaks the silence as we stand at the drop-off, gazing across the range.
“I followed Robyn.” I mean it to be a joke but my heart’s not in it. I just sound, serious.
“Did you enjoy the celebration?” he rephrases.
“It was fine. I liked the music.”
“Then forgive me for asking, but why do you look like you want to jump?”
I glance at Lucas, he looks concerned. Do I look that depressed? “I’m considering it.”
“You do not like the Guard?” he asks cautiously.
“The Guard is fine.” I grimace at my lie. “Yesterday was tough. And today will be worse.”
He grins. “The human?”
“Yes.” Lucas means Aaron but I think of August as well. Because of him I will not live here indefinitely, even if my mother never returns, I will leave and take my two humans with me.
“August will look after him. I know it will be hard for you, but you must concentrate on your training now. Liam will not go easy on you.”
“I know,” I answer, morosely.
He raises one eyebrow. “Then you should know he will already be waiting at the barracks. No leniencies are made for all night parties.”
Liam would make no leniencies for me full stop.
I sigh and turn away from the edge. Lucas relaxes slightly, like he really thought I may jump. Perhaps I did look suicidal? I give Robyn a small smile as I leave them, her eyes looked worried too.
I can’t bring myself to rush to the barracks, despite how late I am. My mind is elsewhere and my body reluctant to pick up the slack. The angeli I pass greet me now and I struggle to find the enthusiasm to greet them back. Mainly nodding and occasionally smiling. Maybe I appear aloof, but mostly I probably just look rude.
The gymnasium is empty when I push through the double doors. My eyes adjust almost instantly from the faint light of the corridors to the blackness in the room. The usual orange glow of the candles is strangely absent. I consider turning around and looking for Liam somewhere else. He could be resting after last night, or maybe he’s ignoring Victus’ request. No, he wouldn’t do that.
My eyes sweep the room, towards the office I know is at the back as I wonder if he’s waiting in there. And then I see them. Liam leads a pack of five Guard. They are moving silently – at a snail’s pace towards me. They seem to be holding hands. I’m so bewildered I just watch them come. Their fingers are moving quickly as they walk – they all adjust their direction at the same time, starting to arc around my current location.
I slowly, chillingly, realise that this is an ambush.