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Skykeepers

A Novel of the Final Prophecy

Jessica Andersen - Author

Paperback: Mass Market | $7.99 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9780451227706 | 480 pages | 04 Aug 2009 | Signet | 8.26 x 5.23in | 18 - AND UP
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Summary of Skykeepers Summary of Skykeepers Reviews for Skykeepers An Excerpt from Skykeepers

In this sexy series based around the Mayan doomsday prophecy, a group of magic- wielding warrior heroes called the Nightkeepers are ready to fight the demon creatures of the underworld to prevent annihilation...

When prominent Mayanist Ambrose Ledbetter goes missing, his daughter Sasha tracks his remains down to an ancient temple. Before she can recover from the shock, she is kidnapped. Slick and charming recruit Michael Stone rescues Sasha from her imprisonment and feels an instant attraction. But he doesn't dare get involved, with the threat of his dark side growing stronger and the powers of sorcery on the rise. Both Michael and Sasha will discover a new passion together and one they have to admit to in order to change their worlds...

Deleted Scene from Jessica Andersen's Dawnkeepers

Dear Readers:

One of the questions I'm asked often is "What happened to Lucius at the end of Dawnkeepers?" So here's an answer of sorts, as well as a hint of things to come in this month's release, Skykeepers. Please enjoy!

***

Near Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Spring equinox

Three years and nine months until the zero date

Lucius Hunt ran howling across the Sonoran Desert with the power of the equinox pounding in his veins.

His skin was too tight over his bones, his arms longer than they should be, his fingernails turned to claws. Though it was full dark out, he could see everything around him with a painful clarity that was tinged luminous green. And that was only a small part of the changes wrought by the thing within him, the evil presence inside his skull that he fought with every step he lurched away from Skywatch.

The makol, the demon that had reached through the barrier to seize control of his mind and body, fought him, trying to gain control and beat Lucius back into a small corner of his mind. The makol didn't want to leave the Nightkeepers' training compound. It wanted to do a one-eighty, race back to the mansion and rip into the winikin, the servants of the Nightkeepers. But Lucius, too, was a servant of the magi ; it said so on his right forearm, where he wore the glyph of a bond-servant, the black tattoo-like mark that said he was blood-slaved to Anna, the sister of the king. That meant he was beholden to her for his life, that she would bear the punishment for his wrongs. And there was no freaking way he was going to let the creature win, then let her pay for his sins, in this life or the next.

Even without the mark he was bound to Anna; she'd been his thesis advisor in Mayan studies back at the university. She'd been his friend, with a wish for more. That 'more' had never happened but she still mattered to him because she was his mentor, and more because she was a Nightkeeper.

Over the next few years, the Nightkeepers were going to do their damnedest to save the world from the 2012 doomsday prophesied in their ancient texts and religion. To do that, they needed each of the twelve remaining magi, and the ten winikin who served them. Lucius, who was nothing more than a human—less than that, even, because of the demon's hold on him—owed it to them, to the world, to get the hell away from Skywatch. He didn't know how he'd taken over control, didn't know how he was managing to force the creature away from the mansion, how he'd managed to keep it from killing Jox after the makol had tricked the royal winikin into letting him out of lockdown in the mansion's basement. But though Lucius might've won those battles, time was running out. His strength was draining by the moment, by the footfall.

Growing urgency hummed in his bones and made his heart thunder in his chest. He could feel the makol grasping at his consciousness, fighting for rulership of their shared body. His perceptions grew sharper by the second, not just his sight, but his other senses as well. He could smell the night, and the iron tang of blood on his clothes and hands. He could even smell the differences among the stains, could tell which came from Jox, which came from the blue-eyed coyote that'd attacked him just outside Skywatch. He'd fought back and hurt the beast, but the creature had escaped into the darkness and he hadn't dared follow because he'd been too close to the compound, too close to temptation. He'd needed to get the hell away.

Most of the blood was his own, from where he'd forced his way from the compound, breaking through the magical ward that had flayed the skin and muscle from his bones. He should've been dead from that alone, he knew, but a makol could regenerate, could heal. Once the demon soul was fully in charge of a human host, the only way to kill it was for a Nightkeeper to cut off its head, cut out its heart and recite a banishment spell. There weren't any Nightkeepers nearby, though. They were far to the south, fighting the Banol Kax and the Xibalbans, struggling to hold the barrier intact during the high magic of the vernal equinox. Which meant Lucius was on his own. He couldn't go back to Skywatch.

Yes you can. Go back! The urgency came from the makol, beating through him with the rhythm of his laboring heart. Go back, go back, go back. It wanted him to return to Skywatch and kill the winikin, then wait for the Nightkeepers and take them, as well.

No! Lucius kept control, kept forcing one foot in front of the other, though he had no idea where he was going. He saw green-tainted flat hardpan, scrub brush and rocks, and not much else. He hadn't been outside of the compound in weeks, not since he'd driven to Skywatch at night, uninvited and unwanted, forcing Anna to bind her life to his rather than letting the Nightkeepers sacrifice him. Maybe she should've let them- he knew too much, and he'd been linked to the makol even then, having stolen a codex fragment from Anna's desk and read the ancient transition spell aloud. He didn't remember doing it, didn't remember inviting possession by a god or demon. Nor did he understand why he had leaned toward the darkness, why his soul had called to the creatures that lived beyond the barrier, in the underworld called Xibalba. He was a decent enough guy, tried to be nice to women and animals, mostly avoided kids. He didn't have a criminal record, hadn't done much more than a little experimental weed, and that hadn't hurt anyone. Which was why it didn't make a damn bit of sense that a demon had glommed onto him, tried to make him hurt Jox and the others.

It doesn't matter why, he thought as his lungs and legs burned and the demon fought inside his skull, trying to make him turn around, trying to make him kill people he liked and respected, people who were a whole hell of a lot more important in the grand scheme than he was. It matters what you do next, dumbass.

Then he saw the crack in the ground up ahead, and he knew.

"Crud." He said the word aloud, felt the demon's scream, felt his own. But he put his head down and kept going, kept running across the flat hard-pack as the crack became a gap, then a chasm. Then a canyon.

He didn't look, didn't hesitate, tried not to think about anything but doing the right thing. The Nightkeepers needed each other, they didn't need him. They didn't need a makol that knew its way around Skywatch, knew way too much about their weaknesses. He'd read most of the books in the archive. No way he was letting himself turn. Not if he had anything to say about it.

Grief drummed at him. Despair that it would end like this, in disgrace, when he'd only just begun to touch the edges of the adventure he'd craved his entire life. He'd wanted to be a hero, wanted to matter. In the end, his last act would be the heroic one, and didn't that just suck.

Forgive me, he thought, casting the prayer toward the sky. Then, deep inside his brain, he summoned every ounce of inner strength he had left and used it to push the makol into the corner where it kept trying to box him in, where it would be connected but not in charge. Where maybe, just maybe it would be weakened enough to let them both die.

Then Lucius hit the edge of the canyon. Pushed off. Let himself fly. And went screaming over the cliff.

Panic came first, then weightlessness. The slave bond mark on his arm flared to fury and pain, and he slapped at it, but it wasn't Anna's face he saw as he fell, wasn't her voice he heard in his head. No, he saw a stranger's face, heard a stranger's scream, and knew who she was, though they'd never met. Sasha Ledbetter. Daughter of Ambrose, heir to whatever the old Mayanist had left behind.

In that moment, in a sudden, brutal burst of clarity, Lucius knew deep down inside that Sasha was the Nightkeepers' last and best hope if they meant to save the world on December twenty-first, 2012. Then it didn't matter anymore, because the bleak blackness rose up, the ground rose up—

And the rattle of dark magic snatched him sideways.


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