Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!
For all of you loyal fans who have read through to the end of Regnum Terra, thank you! And I’m sorry… I know ending a book on a cliff hanger like that is particularly cruel.
To make amends, I’m posting the 1st draft of the prologue to the sequel of Regnum Terra.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce the beginning of my second novel, Hespera.
He knew he was dreaming. Happiness like this could never exist in any real realm. It was too clean and pure; too pleasant to be anything other than a dream.
Reality was always much harsher.
The river running beside him was a sheet of polished crystal gleaming in the light of the warm summer sun. He heard the water racing along; heard the splash and jump of fish in motion, and yet the river was perfectly, unnaturally still.
The last time he had been in this shadow world had been a lifetime ago. He wondered how he had wandered here, out of all the hazy dream worlds he could have stumbled into.
He wondered if it was possible that she was really here too.
She was curled up beside him, her head on his lap, her hair shining brighter than the river where the light of the sun caught it. He traced the hints of auburn and gold lurking amidst the chocolate-brown strands; the touches of color gently teased out by the late-afternoon sunbeams trickling down from the heavens.
She shifted slightly in her sleep and he winced as she brushed across his healing side. The sharp touch of pain threatened to wake him, the edges of the dream world blurring as the air around him thickened uncomfortably.
His breathing quickened as he struggled to stay here, in this gleaming haven with this angel perched on his lap. He knew that if he left, he might not be able to find his way back. Worlds were tricky things, and with the stargate gone…
As the image of a looming, ancient tree filled his mind, the girl sat bolt-upright as though startled into wakefulness, her brilliant blue eyes wide and fearful.
Their gazes met, emerald and sapphire sparking against one another across the divide.
A wistful smile lifted the corners of her mouth as she looked at him. He saw the pain in that smile, and his heart ached in his chest. She probably thought he was dead; a mere ghost her memory had filtered into her dreams.
He wondered painfully if, outside of dreams, she even remembered him at all.
Timidly, tentatively, she stretched her hand toward him as though to test his physicality; as though worried that her fingers would pass right through him like trees through a heavy fog.
The air grew slick and oily, the pressure dropping suddenly as his breath caught in his chest. He stared into her gleaming eyes hungrily, hoping that, just by looking, he could cross the space between them and come home to her.
As her hand gently landed on his chest, the mark on his hip blazed a brilliant, blinding white. Her eyes widened hopefully as the world dissolved around them; the frozen river disappearing in an angry, consuming flood of starlight.