Young Chronicles, Book 2
Darkness hides in the shadows of your mind.
The Guardians must continue to move forward now that their Alpha is gone. The aftermath of Taya’s prolonged fight has rippled out into the Second Life. Many had suffered. Some Keepers lost their own battles.
Stan, Taya’s Beta’s behaviour had become erratic, unpredictable. Stan’s grief hits new heights when his own Elder’s life ended. Paul and Snoops are at a loss about how to help Stan cope with his despair.
What is in store now for Paul? It will be another four generations before the next Alpha arrives. As Elder to the Alpha’s, it’s Paul’s duty to bring her into the Second Life. Does Paul want to wait? Was Taya his last Alpha? Will he be able to pass the torch on? Who will take his place?
Lingering Shadows is a contemporary fantasy and book two in the Young Chronicles Trilogy. What will happen to those in the Second Life? Who will be the next Alpha? The shocking twists and turns will keep you reading till the very end.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE YOUNG CHRONICLES TRILOGY
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The night was a long one, but Paul knew the day would bring more death. He sat next to Master Chen’s bed as the frail Elder fought for every breath. The decades of helping Taya find her way back to the right path and defeat the Darkness had taken it’s toll on him. Paul didn’t like the idea that Chen was sacrificing himself, but he knew it was for the greater good.
“Is that long face for me, Old friend?” Chen’s quiet voice barely cut through Paul’s thoughts. “You must not be sad.” His breath was ragged. “We knew this day would come. I am ready to go.” He closed his eyes as he drew in another breath. “I have lived many lives, brought many Guardians into the Second Life, and trained so many Keepers and Elders.” He coughed with the effort of speaking. “It is my time for rest.”
Paul took his friends hand. The two basically grew up together, became Keepers around the same time. They helped each other with their studies, through broken hearts, and becoming Elders. When Chen volunteered to be the main Elder as Taya fought against the Darkness and finding her way back to the right path, Paul knew his dear friend would not survive.
He was right he had lived many lives, nearly four centuries old, with each new Guardian Chen brought into the Second Life he would give a part of his chi and the weaker he had become. Stan was the last Guardian Chen woke in 1924 and they all knew he couldn’t give any more of himself. Stan would be his last Guardian. So it was of no surprise when he volunteered. Through the nearly seventy years meditating with Taya, she slowly drained his chi as she did with the others in the garden. Chen will be the fourth Elder to die for Taya and the fight against the Darkness.
“It’s time old friend,” Chen’s voice could barely be heard over the commotion that grew in the hallway.
Paul nodded doing his best to ignore the noise. “I’ll get Stan, and the others. Your Guardians will want to pay their respects.”
Paul made to stand when Chen’s skeletal like hand gripped his arm. “You will take the majority of my chi.”
Paul’s lips tightened, tears burned his eyes, and he cleared his throat to dislodge the lump forming. It was a great honour to receive another Elder’s chi, it would normally be passed equally amongst several other Elders and one Keeper wishing to become an Elder. But to be asked to take the lion’s share, Paul opened his mouth to speak when the door flew open and slammed against the wall. Behind him a stampede of men ran past the door.
“What in the world, Scott.” It took every bit of strength for Paul not to shout.
“I’m truly sorry to interrupt Master Paul”-he bowed his head-“Master Chen, but a bit of a situation has...well... we have a really big problem.”
“Can you not deal with it?”
“N-no, I mean, I tried but I think I made it worse.”
“Where is Master Frederick?” Paul pivoted on his chair but kept his hand on Chen’s.
“I sent one of the Keepers to get him, I believe he was sleeping.” Hollering outside the room drew Scott’s attention away. He stepped into the hall and shouted, “Do not go in that room, just wait outside, make sure he doesn’t leave with her.”
Paul came to his feet. “Leave with who? What ‘her’ are you referring too?”
Scott stepped back in. “Okay so about two hours ago Taya’s attendants were interrupted with their final preparations by Stan.”
“Stan?” Paul and Chen spoke in unison.
“Yes, the women said that he was mumbling something about still feeling her and that they couldn’t finish the preparations. When the attendants wouldn’t let him take her body, Stan came back armed.”
“Armed,” Paul and Chen again said in unison.
“Yeah... he took her by force. No one was injured, it’s just he’s taken her down to one of the sitting rooms. I tried to talk him into letting us finish the preparations. I brought a stretcher and when I entered the room, well...”
“You made it worse.” Paul glanced down at Chen. “Can you hold on for longer dear friend?”
Chen heaved himself into a seated position. “I will come, he is my Guardian, a man of my chi.”
“If you are certain.” Paul knew the second the words came from his mouth they were stupid. He offered his arm while Scott rushed to his other side. The three made their way to the sitting room Stan had holed himself up in.
They paused at the door so Chen could catch his breath. Paul said to Scott, “Fetch Master Frederick.”
“I’m bloody well here, and for Christ’s sake Paul, it’s Snoops.” Snoops stepped up to the other men. “What the hell is going on? What’s gotten into the boy?”
“Boy?” Scott snorted. “He’s hundred-sixty-two.”
“He’s a baby.”
“To you maybe.” Scott chuckled.
“Must you two do this now?” Paul asked. Scott and Snoops acted more like siblings rather than Guardian and Elder sometimes. Paul had no patience for it and he was certain Chen felt the same. “We will go in, leave the door open enough so you can hear in case there is any real trouble. We will need your assistance, Scott if Stan decides to become violent.”
Scott’s smile dropped and he set his jaw. “I understand.”
Paul knocked once on the door and opened it letting Chen, Stan’s Elder, lead. He had taken refuge in one of the sitting rooms used by Keepers to study in. Large chairs sat across from floor to ceiling bookcases with a table big enough for six at the back.
Stan stood in front of the table, Taya’s feet could be seen just behind him. “Master Chen, Master Paul,” Stan’s voice shook slightly when he saw them.
“Stan, what have you done?” Chen struggled to get the words out, exhaustion showed in every fibre of his being.
Paul helped him to a nearby chair, his old friend’s body weight becoming too much for him.
“Master Chen, please forgive me, I know disrupting the final preparations of the Alpha is forbidden. But—”
“There is no but,” Chen cut him short. “You had no business in that part of the Temple. You have your own preparations to tend to. Your own mental and physical wellbeing.” He wheezed as he lifted a finger to Stan. “These actions only prove you need to return to the gardens and meditate. As the Beta you have suffered a great loss. You will have felt her loss more than anyone else. But this is not the way.”
“Yes, I understand and I was doing just that Master Chen. I was in the garden. In my meditation I sensed it, her.”
Paul stepped around the large chair where Chen sat and watched, he noted the heavy sword Stan gripped in one hand while all the while not letting go of Taya’s limp hand. He glanced over his shoulder to the door where he could see Scott waiting.
“You are dishonouring her,” Chen continued. “She deserves her final resting place, she has earned her place next to her ancestors.”
“That’s what you don’t understand, Master Chen.”
Paul noticed the slight waver in Chen and he stepped forward. “What, Stan, what don’t we understand?”
Stan shifted his attention to Paul, his eyes drifted to the door to Scott then back to Paul. “She’s not gone.”
Paul shook his head.
“Master Paul, I’m telling you. She’s not gone. I feel her, I sense her.” He gripped her by the wrist and tugged on her as his words became frantic. Paul watched in horror as his fallen Alpha was jostled around like a ragdoll.
Paul lifted his hands. “Okay, I understand that’s how it feels. I still feel and sense her as well. It is only the residual effects of you being her Beta. When Destiny connected you two it intertwined your chis without bonding them. This is how you were able to sense and pinpoint her, losing her has disrupted your chi. This is why you must return to the meditative practices you have learned through the decades. It will help you to alleviate that loss. Re-centre your chi.”
“No, it’s not like that. You said you sense her too. This isn’t residual.” Stan lifted his sword and Paul took a step back as Scott stepped into the room.
Paul set his shoulders. “Yes, I still sense her, but it is only because I was her Elder. Part of my chi died with her last night. With my own practices I will find peace in that loss. We will never be rid of this feeling, but we have trained to learn how to carry it. You are disrespecting Taya and her struggles over the last eighty years. Her entire life she has fought the Darkness. We very nearly lost her to it. You are disrespecting all of her struggles.
“Not just her struggles but all those that have given their lives for her fight. The longer you keep her from her final preparations the longer you deny all those in the Second Life of closure.”
“If we burn her we will kill her,” Stan shouted. “She’s not dead!” He released her wrist and gripped the sword with both hands. “You’re not taking her,” his face turning red from his anger.
Paul heard the distinct sound of a sword being unsheathed from a metal holder. He needn’t turn to know it was Scott. When he charged by it was so fast it rustled Paul’s hair. Stan and Scott’s swords clanged together with a resounding echo that made Paul’s ears ring.
He knew he shouldn’t step in between the two men. They were twice his size and he was already in a weakened state from the ceremony less than twenty-four hours earlier. Just as they were about to strike their third blow Chen was on his feet and between them.
Scott spun away narrowly missing the Elder, Snoops shouted from the door, Paul rushed forward and Stan’s sword came down stopping a hairs width from Chen’s forehead. The two stared at each other, the silence that fell over the room and through the hall was eerie. Paul had to strain to hear the words Chen spoke to his Guardian. The man he had brought into the Second Life a century before, the man that he trained and nurtured, given part of his chi.
“You must stop this now my son. You must let your grief flow through you in the gardens, in your practices while surrounded by others in the Second Life. Let us help you carry this burden, this emptiness that has clouded your judgment.”
Stan dropped his sword it clanked to the stone floor. Seconds later Stan was on his knees holding his Elder around the waist, weeping. “It feels so real. I feel her and it hurts so much.”
Paul nodded to Scott, who rushed forward and grabbed the sword. Scott moved to the door handing them to two Guardians waiting in the wings and silently called several Keepers in to grab Taya’s body. As Stan wept Taya’s body was placed gently on a stretcher and removed from the room.
Stan looked up as she disappeared around the corner and wailed louder dropping to the floor in a heap. Paul knew his pain, it felt like his spine was being pulled from his body. Elders and Keepers never sensed the Guardians like they sensed each other. They would see a flicker of light in their minds and gentle pull on their brains. Elders who had given a piece of their chi can sense only those Guardians in this way.
Paul could still sense Taya’s flicker. He still saw a faint light in his mind and a gentle pull. He believed it was because he gave her so much of his own chi to bring her into the Second Life. He needed to, her injuries were extensive and the Darkness made it nearly impossible for him to pass it on to her. A tear ran down Paul’s face listening to the heartbroken soul shattered cries of Taya’s Beta. He swiped the tear away and nodded to Scott, who brought in several other Guardians and pulled Stan off the floor guiding him out of the room. Chen dropped into the closest chair and Paul sat across from him.
Snoops joined them. “I’ve lived through two Beta’s before him and have never seen that kind of reaction.”
“Yes well, Meredith’s Beta died before she did,” Paul said. “And Emma’s Beta had a shorter time with her.”
“Perhaps putting Emma’s Beta and Stan together will help him to come to terms with his loss.” Chen struggled to keep his head up. “Snoops, I ask you take over my duties as Stan’s Elder. Help guide him through this.”
Snoops knelt in front of Chen. “I’m certain there are more suitable Elders for that task, Chen. Perhaps Chuck could—”
“No,” Chen and Paul said together.
Paul said, “Master Charlie has his own issues to resolve. His actions last night need to be addressed and it is important he be not given an opportunity for any further receiving of chis over the next few weeks.”
Snoops nodded and grunted his agreement.
Paul glanced to the remaining men in the hallway. “François please let everyone know that Master Chen is ready. We are taking him now.”
“Are you sure about this?” Snoops asked Chen.
Chen slowly blinked with a tiny nod. “I am.”
Paul and Snoops stood and helped Chen to his feet. The three men whom lived nearly their entire Second Lives together took one final collective breath and lead Chen out of the room.