Sorry for the delay. I haven’t heard from my beta reader in a week. I sent him the next Battered Lamp chapter to beta read and sent The Devil’s Pact a Good Muslim Girl to a backup beta reader. If I haven’t heard back from b0b by Saturday, I will do one more pass and upload it without beta reading.
On other news, I have written the prologue and Chapter One of the The Devil’s Pact The Tyrant’s Daughter, as I’m calling Chase’s story. Here’s a scene from the prologue. It’s a rough draft, so excuse any mistakes. It takes place almost a year after Mark and Mary’s death.
Saturday, May 1st, 2055 – Aoifa Coughlan – Canyonville, OR
My lungs burned. My sides ached. I wanted to stop running, but the screams of battle propelled me. My heart hammered in my breast.
I threw a look over my shoulder at the inferno consuming Canyonville, tears running down my face. My friends and family were being slaughtered. I clutched the box and the printed pages of Isabella’s epistle to my breasts, holding them tight.
It was our only hope.
The Living Gods had to answer my summons. Their worshipers were being slaughtered. The Holy Liberation Army of Oregon had descended upon us two weeks ago demanding our repentance We had to give up our worship and love for the Living Gods and submit to the cross.
We refused. We only wanted to live in peace, to hold onto the perfect lives we had before the Death. Mark and Mary had ascended to heaven, and we failed them. We didn’t maintain the utopia they had created. Within days, man fought man. We were as evil as the Gods always said.
And the Apostates were the worse.
I was the only priestess that made it through the screen. Rachel, Mary, Debra, Ursula, Rosa, and Gretchen all died trying to get clear. I don’t know why I made it. Perhaps the Living Gods watched out for me. Perhaps I was just lucky.
If only Isabella’s epistle had arrived earlier.
I burst out of the brush on Grazley Bridge Road, racing north towards the South Umpqua River. Stage Coach Road crossed ahead, a quarter mile from the bridge. My heart beat faster. Soldiers shouted behind me.
A loud boom erupted. Fire roared and light flared, momentarily painting the road with orange, stark light.
I reached the crossroad, pushing back my fiery-red hair as I fell to my knees at a pothole. I reached in, prying out a chunk of broken asphalt and revealing the dirt of the road. I had no idea how far off midnight was, I just had to hope I wasn’t too late.
I shoved the box into the hole. It contained a lock of my hair, a lavender flower, and a foot of rabbit. I covered the box with the chunk of asphalt, racing to the shoulder to scoop up gravel into my slim fingers and dumping them into the hole, burying the box.
“I think she ran over here!” a man shouted.
Fear shot through me. I was barely sixteen. I never thought I could be this scared. I scurried for the brush, burying myself into the bush. The branches tore at my gauzy, white robes and my fiery hair. I didn’t want to die. I’ve never even had sex.
I had been saving myself for Him. At twelve, I was deemed beautiful enough to enter the lotto. Even when They ascended last year, I maintained my purity. I wanted to be ready for Him when He returned. I would give my virginity to Him. My gift. I wanted to be His. I wanted to serve the Gods and be Theirs.
So I really didn’t want to die.
I trembled in the bush, boots crunching on asphalts They were rough men, wearing dark clothes and carry forbidden guns. That’s how we lost. There were no guns in Canyonville. We respected the Living Gods wishes. We tried to be pacifist, to not harm our neighbors.
But the Apostate were so full of hate. They wanted to stamp out all traces of the “Tyrants.” They hated us. They all followed that old religions, as full of intolerance as the Christians always had been. They followed Doug and Tina Allard. Worse, they claimed the Holy Chase as their Saint. They claimed the Holy Daughter killed Her parents.
“Maybe we shouldn’t kill her,” one of the soldiers said, striding forward. “If we can convince her to repent…”
“You already have a wife,” another man growled. “We are not followers of the Tyrants. Keep your thoughts pure, brother.”
“I try, but a woman that beautiful…”
I shuddered. They would…force me. How disgusting.
“Please, come,” I whispered. It had to be midnight by now.
The soldiers drew closer to the crossroads. What if they found my box? What if the stop the ritual?
Another explosion rocked the night.
“Damn, that was a big one,” chuckled a soldier. “These Glassnerian’s are putting up a fight. So much fiercer than Eugene.”
“Fire cleanses,” the older soldier nodded. “The world must be purified.”
“Sir!” the first soldier gasped, raising his weapon.
I blinked. Two people stood at the crossroad. I gasped in delight. It was Them. My God stood tall, blue eyes shining in the moonlight. His arm was wrapped my Goddess, her perfect, gorgeous body pressed against His muscular frame, her dark-red shimmering. A smile crossed her heart-shaped, freckled face, green eyes twinkled with mirth.
“Where the fuck did they come from!” the first soldier shouted.
My God looked right at my hiding place. “Hello, Aoifa.”
“Get down on your knees,” the older soldier shouted, brandishing his rifle.
My Goddess flicked her hand. A wave of scintillating light swept out, crashing into the soldiers. Their bodies were consumed by inverse light, leaving behind glowing motes that drifted away on the light breeze.
“It is safe, Aoifa,” my Goddess said, her voice pure and beautiful.
“You came,” I sobbed, scrambling out of the bush. I rushed to them, falling to my knees before Them. Tears of joy poured down my voice. “You will save me. You will save Canyonville.”
“Canyonville is lost,” the God said, bending down. He cupped my chin, lifting me up until he stared into my eyes. “You are such a beautiful girl. You will make them happy.”
Scarlet light flashed. A contract appeared in my Goddess’s hands. “Here is the deal we’ll make with you.” She pushed it into my hands.
I read the document, my eyes widening. “But…I don’t understand. Why do I need to sleep? Who do I need to help?”
“Are you faithful, Aoifa?” He demanded. “Will you submit to your Gods will?”
“Of course, my Lord.”
“Then sign,” She purred, handing me a pen. “And help us save our daughter.”
I signed the pen on the paper.
Sleep overcame me.
I fell into a pleasant dream.