T.O.E. Trilogy by Alecia Stone

It happens every 26,000 years.

Only a few ever survive.

This time …

No one will.

That is unless Charlie Blake can locate all four diamonds to restore the Talisman of El and receive his calling from the remaining three elements before the Annus Magnus strikes. With both Arcadia and the mortal world in a state of unrest, his life quickly spirals out of control as it seems everyone has put a bounty on his head. Maybe even his closest allies.

Not knowing who to trust, Charlie starts to dig up the past. When new revelations arise, he begins to question whether the Legion of Light really is what it claims to be and whether he’s been fighting for the wrong side all along. The line between good and evil is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, especially when it appears Charlie’s destiny could very well be to destroy everything he loves.

Hero or villain? Charlie isn’t so sure anymore.

Excerpt for Ground Zero

The crowd outside the cafe had scattered, the lingering bystanders making a move only upon Charlie’s approach. He exited the cafe onto a wide cobblestone street with buildings left, right and centre. Whispers travelled among the frantic crowd as people shot wary glances at him. The gunshots had to have been heard some distance away. He had to move. He held his palm up to his face for the second time and then glanced left and right along the street. The place somewhat resembled a market, stalls lining both sides of the street. Charlie caught sight of a large yellow phone icon with the word Publitel beneath it.

Heading in the direction of a castle-like building with a corner tower topped with a domed kiosk, he made haste towards the phone sign. He got only a few feet when he heard a noise that made him look to the sky. He stopped, his blood running cold as he gazed at the flock of birds moving across the clear blue sky, all heading in the same direction. The last time he had seen this many birds, he’d been standing in a graveyard. After the birds had come an army of the dead. The only difference between then and now was that this wasn’t a vision.

This can’t be good, he thought as he glanced around him. People had stopped what they were doing to look at the sky. Taking this moment to slip away unnoticed, Charlie took off again but stopped almost immediately when he spotted the uniformed officers moving through the crowd ahead of him. Whirling around, he took off in the opposite direction, his pace measured at first but after a few glimpses behind him and realising that he’d been made, he started to sprint.

He ran down a narrow, winding market alley covered by huge supportive eaves, two police officers hot on his tail. Charlie made his way through a warren of alleyways lined with closely packed white-washed houses with blue details. Everything looked the same. For all he knew, he could have been running in circles. Whichever way he turned, a circuit of walls surrounded him, but as lost as he felt, he had to keep going or risk being caught.

As he ran from alley to alley, he kept wondering if his parents had set him up. Then he chastised himself for even thinking such thoughts. He turned a corner and came to an abrupt halt. Two more officers had joined the chase. The situation suddenly intensified when the officers opened fire. Charlie picked up pace. He had no abilities but his senses were still sharp, allowing him to put a good distance between him and the officers. By now, he knew Azrael wasn’t coming. He was on his own. Whatever was causing his disconnection from the archangel, it had to be linked to him having no abilities.

After finally losing sight of the officers, he spotted a shaded tunnel with a lantern right above the entrance that he headed towards. As he approached the tunnel, he bounded off the adjoining wall and caught hold of the lantern pole and swung himself up onto it. With the aid of a semi-circular balcony, he made his way up onto the roof of a two-storey building and ducked out of sight.

Situations like this, no one had prepared him for. Mortal combat involved a lot more compromises than battling with Archons, he realised. Sure, he could easily execute the officers and give himself a good head start, but there was no guarantee they were immortal. With a demon, he wouldn’t have thought twice about his actions.

The sound of raised voices and hurried footsteps clotted Charlie’s eardrums. Keeping low, he scurried over to the other end of the roof and peered over the edge. He spotted a few awnings and about a dozen folks in the market alley below. Crouching down, he closed his eyes and focused on his breathing. He singled out each sound, mapping the area in his head. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and stood up, shooting his gaze around the surroundings as he contemplated the best way to escape the maze he was trapped in.

The ancient walled city was situated on rising ground, the tallest structure being a circular watchtower that had to be nearing ninety feet, which was a good distance from where he was standing. The buildings within close proximity were no greater than three or four storeys high, ideal for Charlie, who saw a good means of staying off the radar.

He didn’t waste any time deliberating. He leaped across the seven-foot gap, landing on the opposite roof with a thud. For the next three minutes, Charlie travelled via rooftops. When he rejoined the masses on the ground level, the atmosphere appeared a lot different. People were no longer gawking or chasing after him.

As he headed along a busy street, he felt a tremor under his feet that made him look down, but he kept going. It wasn’t until the third tremor that he finally stopped. The vibration was light at first, but then the shaking became more intense. It seemed almost as if the earth was coming apart but everything was still intact.

Charlie glanced up and down the street. Everyone had stopped what they were doing. Panic didn’t set in until a horrific noise blasted across the city. He didn’t recognise the sound. At one point, the noise resembled that of a jet engine building up. Were they under attack? Immediately, Charlie thought Gaddis’s minions had found him. He looked up at the sky, not sure what he would find. Nothing flew by overhead.

Then the screaming started. Charlie glanced away from the sky and saw people scattering in the distance. The folks nearby looked just as confused as he felt. Although he didn’t know what was happening, he didn’t stand around and wait to be trampled by the frantic group rushing towards him. He took to the street along with the crowd.

Chaos reigned everywhere.

‘Water, water,’ Charlie heard someone behind him yell in Arabic.

Before he knew it, he found himself being knocked off his feet by a strong force from behind. He landed in shallow water. When he got to his feet, another burst of water hit him; so strong and fast moving it was that it almost sent him hurling to the ground again, but he managed to stay on his feet, braced against a car. The water was up to his knees now and was moving with such speed that he could barely move his feet against the current.

It was suddenly very windy. Slowly, the screaming started to fade as the engine noise became louder. When the car Charlie was leaning against started to shift, he made a move, just in time as another vehicle made a strong impact, denting the side of the car he had been leaning against. Standing in the middle of what used to be a street but now looked like a river, people scattering all around him, he saw what had the folk of Tunisia in hysteria. Rushing towards him at a great speed was a black wall of water, maybe three to four storeys high. The huge wave smashed everything and anything in its path.

Charlie whirled around and powered through the water. Each time he glanced behind him, he saw the monstrous wave swallowing people as it gunned for him. The water was just a few feet away when he spotted a young woman kneeling on the bonnet of a car ahead of him, her eyes wide with terror as she stared at the oncoming wave.

‘Run,’ Charlie yelled, but she didn’t budge. He wasn’t even sure she had heard him. Taking two big leaps, he lunged forward. The moment he made contact with the woman, the wave hit him hard.

 

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