Unveiling is currently a work in progress.
Every child falls asleep with the sound of their mother’s stories echoing in their minds. Gabriel Armstead, however, is no longer a child, and has no time in his life for the worlds his mother paints for his little sisters. The night he tells her so is the night that everything he had ever known changed for the worst. After finding himself in a land he thought didn’t exist, Gabriel is told that he alone must set things right before the god Nero breaks the veil that separates the world Gabriel has always known from Nádúr. As if things weren’t bad enough, he has to save his sisters from Nero as well – and he has just seven days to do the impossible.
Shimmer - Fuel
X-Amount of Words - Blue October
Watermark - Enya
Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
Sing - My Chemical Romance
The Final Battle - Les Miserables Cast
Gabriel jumped at the small voice and turned to the left. He was surprised to see a small window at the end of the long hall, and he noticed with slight surprise that the sky on the other side of it was still dark with night. His eyes were drawn to a small figure in the corner of the cell beside him. When the shadow moved, he was surprised to see a girl looking over at him from the floor of her cell.
“Eat it,” She repeated softly. “The Master wishes to see you. No one in this place is smart enough – or brave enough – to do something that would jeopardize your health before the Master meets with you.”
He glanced over at the food once more, and then at the girl again. He couldn’t make out much of her features in the shadows from the window; her hair was long and dark, as was her skin. He took a hesitant step towards the bench beside him, and when he looked down at the food, he was surprised to see more than a chunk of bread on the plate. There was a small bit of cheese, and a small chunk of meet, whose appearance and color seemed unfamiliar to him.
“It’s rabbit,” The girl in the other cell supplied. “Eat it.”
“What about you?” He lifted the plate from the bench and began moving towards the bars that separated the two. “They’ve brought you nothing.”
“I’ve already eaten,” She replied, just as softly as before. “They were waiting for you to wake up before bringing your food to you. Eat it. Go on – you don’t have much time left before Kalei returns for you.”
Nerves broke her voice on the last statement, and Gabe couldn’t fight off the chill that wracked his spine. He stopped where he was and sat once more on the floor, holding the plate on his crossed legs. His stomach gurgled in appreciation, and he decided that if he was going to die, he might as well die with a full stomach. He picked up the chunk of bread and took a bite out of it, swallowing it without chewing it for long. He closed his eyes as the food slid down to his stomach, trying to remember the last time he had been so grateful for a small meal.
“Who is this Master?” Gabe asked before taking another bite from the bread. “Where am I?”
The girl finally moved from her corner, crawling on her hands and knees until she was just on the other side of the bars that separated them. Gabe almost dropped the bread he held when he was able to take in the girl’s unobstructed appearance. Her face was narrow and her features were soft. She had an olive tint to her skin, which seemed to radiate warmth even in the dark and cold prison. What surprised him most, however, was that she seemed to be his age.
“You’re in the dungeons beneath the keep,” She supplied, only answering his second question. “They brought you here during the night after they found you in the fields around the castle.”
He nodded absently as he pulled a piece of cheese off of the block and smashed it against a piece of bread. If he was in the keep, then surely the master that seemed to be brought up often was the god Nero. His stomach lurched oddly at the realization, and he tried to ward off his nerves by chewing the food thoroughly. He even counted how many times he chewed the food before swallowing it. Anything that could keep his mind off of Nero would do.
“Who are you?” He asked when his mouth was empty. “Why are you here? You’re just a girl.”
If his comment bothered the young woman, she didn’t show it. She leaned forward and peered down the long hall, in the direction that both Kalei and the guard had gone after leaving his cell. When she was satisfied that no one was watching them, or listening in, she turned her attention back to Gabe.
“My name is Elina,” She said with a small smile. It dropped before she spoke again. “I’m here because I have displeased the master.”
Gabe studied the girl as he paired a piece of the meat with the cheese and the bread. She seemed small, almost frail. Her limbs were thin and elegant, and they almost seemed too long for her body. The way she held herself, however, revealed nothing to Gabe except that she was no happier to be in this place than himself. He chewed slowly and thoughtfully, and he could feel her eyes watching him as intently as he had just studied her. When he swallowed, he turned to her once more.
“What can you tell me about this place?” He paused and thought of the correct name. “Of Nádúr?”
Elina looked at him oddly, her face pinched in an expression of confusion and lack of understanding. After a long, silent moment, her expression changed. Her eyebrows lifted towards her hairline, and her mouth opened slightly in surprise. She nodded to herself, and leaned even closer to the bars.
“You’re from the other side of the veil,” She stated, and didn’t wait for him to confirm or deny. “I thought so, but I couldn’t be sure. You could pass for one of us.”
She looked at him pointedly, and he lifted a hand to his long hair. Yes, he thought to himself, he had seen men with long hair in the village where he had left his mother. His heart fluttered when he thought of the woman, of the worry and fear that must have been in her every thought. He sighed and pushed the thought aside; he couldn’t worry about her when he wasn’t there to protect her.
“Keep eating. There isn’t much time.” Elina leaned back from the bars and pressed her back against the solid wall behind her. “What would you like to know?”
“Everything,” He said around a mouthful of food. “Anything.”
The girl was silent for a long moment, a thoughtful look on her face. She drummed her fingers along the stone floor beside her, and when she turned to Gabriel, her expression was flat. In fact, he thought, it was almost pained.
“Nádúr was created by the Goddess and the God,” She told him, repeating what his mother had told him in the crawlspace of the house. “They rules in unity, one equal to the other. The God took the power for himself when he killed the Goddess. That’s when things became… unnatural.”
“What do you mean, unnatural?”
“The troll that guarded the bridge to the keep,” Elina explained softly, though Gabriel wasn’t sure how she knew that he had seen it. “Creatures like that didn’t exist until the Goddess’ death. The imbalance in power, I suppose, created things like that. There are others in Nádúr, but no one would confirm it if you asked them. The unnatural things are to be feared here. The trolls are the gentler ones.”
“Gentle?” Gabriel shook his head at the memory of the large fist hurtling towards him. “I would hate to see what else Nádúr is hiding.”
Elina shifted uncomfortably in her seat on the floor and dropped her eyes from Gabriel’s face. She was acting as though he had inadvertently offended her, but he couldn’t tell why. They had been talking about the distorted, unnatural creatures in Nádúr – he didn’t see how that related to her. After a moment, she picked her head up, looked at him, and continued talking as though she hadn’t stopped in the first place.
“Most of Nádúr is what I think you would see in your… history books,” She commented softly, trying to think of the words. “Little villages, quiet towns… people who work hard for what they call theirs.”
Gabriel wanted to ask her about the other creatures in Nádúr, about the things he might find waiting for him around the corner, but he was afraid that the crestfallen look would return to Elina’s face, and for some reason he couldn’t describe, he wanted to avoid seeing that look again if he could help it.
“The rest…. You’ll learn on your own, in your own time.” Gabriel wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but she was moving away from the bars. “You should get changed now. Don’t worry, I won’t look.”
This is the first novel in the Knights of Nádúr series.
Gabriel Armstead; 20; blonde hair, brown eyes