The Harbinger (A Fight for Light Novel Book 2)

The Harbinger

Paranormal Fantasy Angel Romance

A Fight for Light Novel
Book 2

NIKKI LANDIS

Harbinger

 

Defined as:

One that announces or foreshadows the approach of someone or something; forerunner; herald,

A person sent in advance of troops, a royal train, etc., to provide or secure lodgings and other accommodations,

One that presages what is to come; a precursor; as in a premonition, or

To act as harbinger to; herald the coming of.

 

Preface

 

Kellen glanced at me and pointed his ring in the direction of a huge oak tree. He twisted the green stone I had admired so many times before, never truly realizing its significance, as a murky misty swirl rose up from the center, altering the smooth appearance, and rising out of it that exploded up and into a window. I really didn’t know how else to describe it. Similar to a large oblong mirror but without any kind of frame.

The edges shimmered, like the sun’s rays reflecting on a glassy water surface. Through it you could see to the other side, which looked like more forest but I wasn’t fooled. An aura of mystery surrounded the gateway. A shiver ran through my slim frame…

I felt a slight nudging, a distant call, a deep vibrating hum, like that of whisper’s soft caress, beckoning me to come closer. A feeling of déjà vu blanketed me.

I had been here before…long ago…

“Touch it,” Kellen urged me, excitement dancing on the edge of his voice.

I walked over to the window, the portal, and put my finger up to it. As I touched it, it wobbled and rippled like liquid glass. I was completely fascinated. I saw my finger go through and come back as I pulled it out of the mirror, intrigued.
Wow,
I thought.

I turned to Kellen and grinned.

He slipped his hand in mine and squeezed. “Ready?”

His finger ran the length of my cheek as he placed a soft kiss against my lips. His other hand clenched mine, entwining our fingers, a protective gesture. With all that we had been through, and all the attacks on my life, nothing was more important than this moment, the culmination of his promise to protect me at all costs. No matter what. From any enemy.

A fierce determination lit up his eyes. Only he could be there for me now. Only he could show me the way. Only my Guardian…

I nodded to him.

Kellen pulled me into his arms, holding tight, his entire body a shield against the unknown, and jumped through the gateway…

 

 

M
y love is as a fever, longing still

For that which longer nurseth the disease,

Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,

Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.

My reason, the physician to my love,

Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,

Hath left me, and I desperate now approve

Desire is death, which physic did except.

Past cure I am, now reason is past care,

And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;

My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,

At random from the truth vainly expressed:

For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,

Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

 

--Shakespeare, Sonnet 147

 

Chapter One

 

Kellen and I came through the portal, landing on the ground softly.

“Oh!” I gasped as a trembling began in my lower extremities and rose higher until my entire body shook with a sudden pulse. I dropped to my knees, exhaling, and breaking into a cold sweat. What was that? What just happened?

“Rhiannon?” Kellen’s voice brought me back from the verge of unconsciousness. I had almost blacked out.

A whisper carried on the wind, the words almost too indistinct to decipher. “Welcome beloved and revered…” Was I the only one whose skin rose with goosebumps?

Kellen pulled me to my feet. “I did not think my close proximity to you would cause you to fall to your knees. What an effect I have you,” he chuckled.

Did he not see? Did he not hear the voice? How could he have missed what just happened?

“So beautiful,” his eyes met mine, “so delicate, just like a rose.”

He kept his arms around me, looking into my eyes for a moment, his fingers clutching my body closer still. One hand raised to brush along the contour of my cheek. His eyes held an intensity that both alarmed and intrigued me.

It did not last. His long lean fingers twisted the green stone on the ornate ring and the portal collapsed into the same murky misty swirl as the ring sucked the fog back inside the precious stone.

He looked down at me with his usual grin when he noticed I was still watching him and gave me a squeeze before letting go.

“I’m afraid you’re stuck with me now,” he smirked, making light of the moment.

I saw it for what it was, an attempt to allay my fears, already forgetting my experience of a moment ago, but I let him think I was oblivious. The demon attack was still too close, too fresh. I had to bury it, before thoughts of my Gramps, his death, and the reality of my guilt consumed me.

It was all my fault.

If only Gran and Gramps were not forced to stay on the other side of the portal, if only they could have returned to where they belonged, here, then my Gramps would still be alive.

But they had to stay. Because of
me
.

His death was on
my
conscious. No one else.

“That’s ok,” I replied with a wink, “I’m safe with you.” I buried the pain and forced myself to focus.

His grin slowly got bigger as he looked me over head to toe. I gulped loudly and he laughed out loud in response. Taking my hand, he started walking, keeping me close at his side.

“I need to warn you that it is a little more…primitive here than you are used to. I hope you’ll still be comfortable, especially once we reach my home.”

“Its two days then?” I asked.

“Yes, a two day journey by foot. We will be keeping to the trees and forest as much as we can. I want to run into as few…inhabitants as possible right now.”

We traveled for an hour in silence. There were deep, deadly cliffs close by, some of them plunging in depths of hundreds of feet and high, cavernous looking mountains in the distance. The forest here was dense, lined thickly with tall trees. The trees almost seemed to have individual personalities. Amazingly, not one seemed identical to the others.

The grass was very green just like everything else. Something about the way the breeze blew made all of the trees and bushes seem alive. They seemed to move independently of their neighbors and actually
breathe
.

“Kellen, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, you can ask me anything. You never have to get permission,” he answered with a smile.

“What is the portal?” I asked, curious.

“In simplest terms it is a ‘puddle’ of energy through which life forms can cross from one side of the gateway to the other.”

“Is your ring the portal?” I wondered, clarifying. I hadn’t thought so but I asked anyway to be sure.

“No, it just opens the portal so we can cross, it connects to the energy and channels it. There are only a few ways to open a portal. Guardian rings are one of those ways.”

“Is it like time travel?”

He laughed. “No, we are in the same time and dimension as you are used to. The easiest way to describe it would be to say that this is a different world with different creatures that exists alongside your own.”

“Why is it open only from dawn to dusk? Why isn’t it open all of the time?” He told me several times we had to cross before nightfall. Why?

“Only the creatures of the dark can cross from dusk until dawn. You wouldn’t want to cross a portal at that time. It is frequented by demons, death hounds, and much worse. It is extremely dangerous.”

He looked at me very sternly, his expression clearly saying ‘don’t even think about it’. Why would I? Surely I would never have a reason to cross after dark alone.

“How many portals are there?” I asked to distract him.

“There are many more than I could ever count. They are everywhere, all over the world. Every portal in this world leads to a different location in your world. Only those who know where to look know where they can be found.”

I nodded and thought about that for a minute. This was very interesting. Could you potentially go anywhere you wanted then? Maybe across continents? It was fascinating to think of not having to fly on a plane to travel.

Kellen looked at me and laughed. Arousing my curiosity, I looked at him questioningly. “What? No more questions?”

“Not right now. I’ll let you know when I think of something,” I answered him seriously.

He must have thought that funny because he laughed again and shook his head.

“Rhiannon, you never stop amazing or surprising me.”

A few minutes later we came upon the edge of the forest and needed to cross over to the other side. There was a dirt road and straight across, more forest. The road looked well-traveled, with deep groove lines in the earth. I could only guess they were tire or wagon wheel marks. You could also see many different types of footprints and animal prints. I was thoroughly intrigued. Kellen was looking around cautiously as he spoke.

“We must be very quiet and careful until we reach the border of my home. This is a public road. Since it isn’t protected, it’s not safe here. We will have to be on our guard.”

I looked at him and giggled. He stared at me with one eyebrow raised.

“It’s just that with you dressed in the armor and all, it is sort of ironic for you to say that,” I explained.

He laughed too. “Nevertheless, we must be careful,” he told me, sobering up.

“Wait here quietly until I come back. I need to scout ahead. I’ll be a few minutes,” he warned me. “Take a moment to rest.” I nodded.

True to his word, he returned a few minutes later and took my hand. We walked up to the road, and then he picked me up and sprinted across into the forest. He set me down gently once we were safely through.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of…someone seeing you,” he explained, his voice soft.

His arms were holding me close. The kiss he placed on my lips was gentle and sweet. For a few seconds his eyes betrayed their desire and his mouth descended on mine with a fevered heat.

We started through the forest, Kellen using his sword to cut down large branches here and there out of the way for me. Most of the time, he held my hand. Occasionally, he would lift me over a log or stream. It was dense here, so thick with the trees, bushes, and wildlife that it took a very long time to trudge our way through. It seemed like it was taking forever to go a short distance. Trying not to complain, I didn’t say a word.

We had been walking for a long time. The muscles in my back were aching slightly along with my legs. I was also getting thirsty. Kellen’s legs were longer than mine. I had to walk faster to keep up. He looked over at me suddenly and stopped.

“I’m sorry darling. I forgot how this would be for you. You must be exhausted,” he murmured apologetically.

Glancing around, he pulled me over to a fallen log to rest. I sat down gratefully as he reached into his backpack and handed me a bottle of water. I downed half the bottle in a few seconds and then leaned my head back to look at the sky. It was a lovely deep blue with fluffy white clouds, not too many, just enough to look pretty. The sun was shining and making its descent toward the west. I breathed deeply smelling wildflowers, tree sap, and the purest air I had ever inhaled.

“The air smells so fresh here. Is it me or does it seem like the sun is setting later than home?” I asked him as I drew another deep breath.

“Yes, there is more daylight hours this time of year. The air is much fresher here. Our world is untainted by the same things as yours. It’s the first thing I always notice too. Here, life is slower, simpler. Technology is unimportant.”

“It sounds nice.”

“Yes, but sometimes it is more difficult. We live, die, survive by our swords. Our ability to hunt sustains us. There is plenty of game, fish, and fresh water. The earth provides everything we need.” He sounded proud of this place, his home.

“Tell me more. I think it sounds wonderful.”

He laughed. “Wouldn’t you miss the radio, television?”

“No, I think I could really love it here,” I told him truthfully.

He slid over next to me, taking my face in his hands. “Could you really?”

I saw the hopeful expression on his face. I knew it meant something to him to have me here. It was important to him that I like his home.

“Yes, I think it is beautiful and magical here.” I smiled my best smile at him.

He returned the smile, pleased. After a quick kiss against my lips, he hopped up.

“I need to secure us a place to sleep tonight, unless you don’t mind sleeping out under the stars.” He winked at me.

“Yes, that would be great. Just like camping.” It was warm, the evening would be pleasant.

“I didn’t have time to grab much. I have a sleeping bag for you though.”

“That’s good enough. Thanks,” I told him.

He handed me a granola bar and a bag of dried fruit combined with trail mix.

“It’s not much of a dinner. I’ll hunt tomorrow.”

I chewed thoughtfully as I watched him set up camp. He built a small fire pit out of rocks and unloaded some of the things from the backpacks. I was thinking about our conversation earlier today. I wanted to know more.

“Will you tell me about the council?” I asked.

Kellen focused on me to explain. “They are the oldest and wisest of our kind. They are three elders. They often move and talk in unison since their thoughts are so similar, although the first elder holds the highest office and addresses the public. They uphold the laws and traditions of our society, serving as judges and keepers of peace. They also oversee the Guardian army. We in turn guard those in need of protection and protect the gateway and its secrets.”

“What are their names?”

“Peredur, Torin, and Reamann. Peredur is the first elder, the oldest of the three.”

“Are they powerful? Do they use magic?”

He smiled. “Yes, they have the power of foresight and vision and use other magic to keep our lands safe. They are restricted and governed by laws. They cannot use magic to harm or intervene unless it is a special circumstance. They may be powerful but they are also very cautious and are guided by the same rules I live by.”

“Do they uphold the restrictions you told me about before?”

“Yes,” he replied hesitantly, “they handle all verdicts and judgments.”

“Hmmm, it sounds like they are very thorough.” I tried not to be concerned about the way he didn’t want to answer.

“Rhiannon, they are very fair. This is not something to worry about.”

I nodded. I would put it aside for now. Looking around, I realized it was getting dark. The sky was turning a dark blue and violet. It seemed very quiet here in the forest to me. Maybe I was just used to the noises of home.

“Are you cold? I can build a fire.” I looked over and saw him watching me.

“No, it’s warm still. I think…” I stopped talking when I saw him look around sharply.

Kellen grabbed his sword and stood quickly putting his finger to his lips.

“Shhh,” he whispered suddenly, “we are not alone.”

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