So this is a NEWS UPDATE regarding my first book 'Awakening' from 'The VIth Element Series'.
'Awakening' now has NEW CONTENT. Yes. You heard me right. As well as a few grammatical and additional tweaks, the biggest change is a NEW EXTRACT, which can be found in CHAPTER ONE!
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If you just want to read the NEW CONTENT, you can find it below:
Love Adele Rose XX
CHAPTER 1: VLADIMIR
Vladimir Alcaeus was, for the first time in his extraordinarily long life, tired. As he walked along the ancient, candle-lit hallways, he sighed, overcome with a sudden weariness. He just wasn’t as young as he once was and now, much to his frustration, he was finding each and every day as headmaster exhausting, despite his remarkable talents and incredible mind.
Stopping temporarily outside the ornate wooden doors before him, to catch his breath, he tightened his long, flowing cloak more closely around his body, shivering. It had gradually been getting colder by the second, as if all the warmth was being sucked out of the atmosphere. It also seemed that the dark, once his comforting friend, was now steadily becoming threatening, filled with shadows half glimpsed and that lurked just out of sight. This could only mean one thing…
Mortimer had re-awoken.
Vladimir Alcaeus shivered even more at the thought of such a foe and clung to the cold doors for support. He had once stopped Mortimer many, many moons ago in an almighty battle – a battle that had changed the course of history forever. That memory haunted him the most. That memory slowly ate away at him, like poison.
Vladimir lost himself in a flashback.
Mortimer towered over a younger version of Vladimir, his mouth pulled back in a delighted snarl of victory. His eyes were deadly and dazzling and his ebony hair, normally smooth, was now untameable.
As he gazed into Mortimer’s unfathomable expression, Vladimir realised that his hair matched his wild expression and vengeful statue. What’s more, whilst he lay there, amongst the dirt and debris, Vladimir noted that Mortimer was surrounded by both the living and the dead. They stood there, awaiting their master’s call. They stood there, awaiting their master’s signal. They were his loyal soldiers…ever patient…ever faithful.
Suddenly, he felt something gloopy trickle down the side of his face. One of the dead had spat on him, marking him…mocking him. Vladimir felt rage well up within his chest. And yet, he was too weak to respond. It was pitiful, really. His robes were torn and bloody and he had shrivelled within himself, almost like a snail reseeding into its home. He felt weak. He felt feeble.
He felt crushed.
“You can’t win now,” Mortimer laughed coldly, his eyes flashing with numerous emotions. “I’ve got you just where I want you and finally,” he paused dramatically. “After all this time, I shall have my revenge and you shall get what you deserve!”
It was then that Mortimer lashed out, kicking him repeatedly until he was almost unrecognisable. Vladimir shuddered with every blow. His head hurt. His feet hurt. His chest hurt. All in all, he was exhausted. Something stroked his face and his eyes lulled. Was that death touching him? Was that death calling him…calling him into an eternal slumber?
“No,” Vladimir shocked himself with how fierce his response had been. He spat out blood through gritted teeth, defying both death and Mortimer. One of his eyes was practically closed shut. “No. You’re wrong.”
Wincing, slowly, ever so slowly, he found the ability to stand.
It was a miracle.
“I’m sorry you feel the way you do,” he added, hoping that the sincerity was there in his gaze. His heart thudded like nothing on Earth. “And I’m sorry for what I’ve d –”
“SORRY WON’T SAVE YOU NOW!” Mortimer’s voice resonated around the battle field, magnified a million times. “SORRY WILL NEVER SAVE YOU…NOT AFTER WHAT YOU’VE COST ME.”
As he stood there, Vladimir could have sworn that he saw the tiniest of drops appear within Mortimer’s eyes. However, they were gone almost as quickly as they had appeared. The blow, both physical and emotional, hit him like a bullet to the chest.
Vladimir fell winded to the ground, his body wracked with further pain.
“ENOUGH,” Mortimer snarled. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!” Like a stealthy panther, he walked towards Vladimir, his teeth bared. “YOUR TIME’S UP AND MY TIME’S BEGUN.” And so it came to this final moment.
Vladimir was on his knees and Mortimer was almost upon him. Only one could win.
Who would it be?
Gathering up the last of his limited strength, Vladimir searched deep within himself, finding his waning powers. With a roar of defiance, Vladimir projected his powers onto his enemy. In his eyes, a hardness gleamed. Behind that hardness, seen and known only to Vladimir himself, was remorse and bitterness. Vladimir’s powers hit Mortimer by surprise. He stumbled back, his feet nearly giving way. His followers tittered in shock and alarm, some even reaching out to help their master.
Mortimer furiously waved them away.
A few seconds past – seconds that seemed like forever. It was in these precious few seconds that all held their breath and Mortimer looked down, to assess the damage. Nothing. He was fine, apart from a little bruised. Realising this, Mortimer laughed. He laughed so hard that the sky above them turned black, filling with stormy clouds. He laughed so hard that hot, fiery tears fell from his eyes. He laughed so hard that the ground shuddered, threatening to tear apart. Then, out of the darkness, came a glimmer of light. It grew and grew until Mortimer, crying out, acknowledged where the light was coming from.
It was coming from his chest.
A look of blind panic swiftly filled Mortimer’s eyes, before this emotion was claimed by fury and fear.
“NO,” He screeched, watching his world crumble, as did his dead companions. “NO. THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING. IT CAN’T -” All was to no avail.
Eyes shrivelled. Nose shrivelled. Lips shrivelled, until Mortimer became a glowing beacon in the night. Subsequently, Mortimer fell to the ground, like a charred rock.
Vladimir returned to the present. He recalled how he had watched Mortimer’s living followers disappear that day, shortly after witnessing the fall of their master. They had scuttled away like snakes. They had seemed to slink into the shadows, hiding and hoping. What’s more, Vladimir acknowledged that, after defeating his enemy, he had barely escaped with his life. He had been plagued by endless months of evil, tortured nightmares. In due course, Vladimir had travelled to the furthest dimension known to entomb Mortimer in various, impenetrable barriers. Clearly, the barriers hadn’t been as impenetrable as he had initially thought.
Now, his old enemy was back.
Vladimir acknowledged this fact with a frown, especially as he realised that there was only one vital and essential solution.
Mortimer had to be stopped, once and for all.
Vladimir had called the urgent meeting earlier that day to decide what must be done. His most trusted colleagues, who made up the elite council, had gathered to hear what he had to say and to discuss their verdict.
Pushing open the doors, Vladimir entered a beautifully decorated and intricate room, filled with light. Immediately, he was overcome by a sense of safety. In this room, not even Mortimer, or his associates, could penetrate these walls with their darkness. Then, positioning himself at the head of the high-table, the centrepiece of such a magnificent space, he acknowledged all those who had gathered with a polite nod of his head.
Subsequently, he spoke.
“My dear friends and colleagues,” Vladimir began, smiling at each person in turn. “I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for turning up to this important meeting. I also sincerely apologise to those who may have had other plans for this evening.”
As he spoke, Vladimir’s voice had a calm, gentle quality about it but underneath, a strong steeliness could be heard.
“Nevertheless, I’ve called this conference as a result of an extremely serious and critical matter.”
For a moment, Vladimir paused to collect his swirling thoughts, before he continued with eyes that were misty with concern.
“Some of you,” he continued, “may have felt the darkening change already. Others may not. However, one fact remains clear. Our old enemy, Felonious Magnus Mortimer, has returned and he’s not happy.”
At hearing this solemn news, a collective gasp filled the room and all shivered, evidently rattled. Each face paled as white as the moon and some even clutched their hearts, for fear of a cardiac arrest. All the same, the mutterings abruptly stopped as soon as one of the twelve dared to oppose such an announcement.
“Are you absolutely sure of this news?” the rasping voice of the objector hung like a dark cloud and a deathly silence fell about the chamber.
All looked at the person who had protested in shock. The only person who didn’t look surprised was Vladimir, who merely appeared thoughtful. The protester, who looked far younger than he really was, despite his matted, short hair and sharp, inquisitive eyes, continued.
“After all, it’s common knowledge that you were responsible for encasing Mortimer in layers of powerful protection all those years ago. Apart from you,” he continued, “there’s no one else alive capable enough to release Mortimer once more. The general population of our kind just do not possess such incredible powers!”
At hearing such an outburst, Vladimir raised an eyebrow archly. After a momentary pause, he smiled at the protestor for their high praises, with regards to his talents, before sympathy flashed across his aged features. Out of everyone here, he knew that Professor Xandar was the most likely person to object to his announcement. After all, it was in his nature, as the academy’s Science teacher, to firmly believe in fact rather than reading the senses, in spite of his own unbelievable abilities. Still, surely the cold drop in temperature was a sign that he was telling the truth?
Vladimir related this understanding to his defiant co-worker. Even then, as he argued his point, Professor Xandar, or more informally known as Edmond, still appeared to disbelieve him, despite his rational reasoning.
“Nonetheless,” Edmund continued boldly, after Vladimir had finished. “Regardless of your argument, you haven’t explained how Mortimer managed to escape the barriers you placed around his tomb, all that time ago? Therefore, Mortimer can’t be alive. He just can’t.”
Now, although Vladimir was an understanding man, considering his associate’s background, Edmund was beginning to try his patience. Deep down, beneath that thick skin, Vladimir knew that his colleague’s argument was founded on fear.
“But Edmund,” Vladimir answered back, his voice superbly calm, although it had a hint of bite to it. “That’s where you’re wrong, my old colleague.”
Vladimir turned to his right and gestured to an extremely beautiful woman, who had long, snow-white coloured hair and an extremely pale complexion, sitting next to him.
“Hecate, will you kindly do me the honour of explaining to Edmund and all those here, who also doubt me, why I am telling the truth?”
When Vladimir had finished, Hecate simply nodded, ignoring those who had shuffled in their seats uncomfortably, as a result of Vladimir’s accusation. Then, she looked at Edmund, directly in the eye, with her icy, piercing gaze.
“Edmund, do you know what special power I was blessed with when I turned sixteen?” Hecate’s voice, although soft, was frosty and everyone in the room, apart from Vladimir, twitched in uneasiness. Eventually, after swallowing a number of times, Edmund nodded.
“Of course,” he replied slowly, his voice now quiet and hoarse. “Everyone knows that you can communicate with the dead.”
After Edmund had finished, the room was so silent that you could have heard a pin drop and all shivered from an unfelt breeze. Gradually, as the silence lengthened, Hecate smiled, her full lips peeled back to reveal perfect, white teeth, which mirrored the colour of her hair.
The tension increased once again.
“Then, surely you can understand the reasons behind Mortimer’s escape?” Hecate persisted, her eyes now glowing with an unnatural quality. “After all, Mortimer’s far more powerful than I could ever dream of being. Furthermore,” she finalised, “the dead spoke to me before Vladimir arranged this meeting. They told me many things - things concerning Mortimer and his dark deals with the otherside - things that cause me to shudder uncontrollably even now.”
Once again, the room descended into uneasy friction, as no one dared to speak. All let this statement steadily and painfully digest.
After another long silence, bit by bit, realisation dawned upon Edmund and he became even paler than Hecate herself which was, in itself, a fantastic achievement.
“Impossible,” Edmund eventually croaked, meeting all with a terrified gaze. “Mortimer couldn’t have actually commanded the dead to release him? That, surely, is just a myth?”
Before Hecate could answer, Vladimir cut across her.
“Yet again, sadly, you’re mistaken my old friend,” he interrupted, his eyes now burning with anger at himself this time. “That’s where I went wrong when I entombed Mortimer all those years ago as, although I prevented those who were alive from finding and releasing him, I didn’t think about those who were dead. Unfortunately,” he finalised, “Mortimer really is powerful enough to command the dead. It’s my fault that he has re-awoken and so, it brings us back around in a vicious circle. What to do about this problem?”
When Vladimir had finished, he looked hopefully into all the faces around him. Much to his sadness, no one appeared to have a solution. Instead, they all shuffled back into their seats, as if trying to seek comfort from the thin leather.
With a disappointed sigh, Vladimir spoke.
“It saddens me to think that not one of you is able to devise an answer to this dilemma.” he exclaimed, his eyes becoming momentarily glassy. “Nevertheless,” he added, the sadness in his gaze immediately replaced with a profound burning fire. “Despite your silence, I’ve been able to put an effective plan into action. By tripling the number of ‘awakening’ scouts presently placed in the field, I believe that we may be able to find our answer, whatever or whoever it entails.”
As soon as Vladimir had finished talking, a hushed silence fell about the room. One by one, each person became lost in thought at hearing such hopeful news. Eventually, Vladimir broke the spell cast over them.
“However,” he added, “there’s one remaining problem.”
Vladimir paused momentarily, gazing at each individual in turn. All were gripped in anticipation. Then, he relieved those gathered of their torment.
“I’m still unclear as to how to deal with this serious issue in the long run.”
This time, instead of silence, many cries of “we’re doomed” echoed around the ancient walls.
Vladimir wasn’t having any of that kind of talk.
“SILENCE!” his cry had the desired effect, booming around the chamber for, as soon as it had left his lips, all fell back into their seats, ashamed of their behaviour - all apart from Hecate, who had simply sat in her chair the whole time, lost in her own darkened world and trance.
Vladimir rose to his feet, hands shaking.
“Yes,” he continued, his voice now harsh. “I agree with you all. This is a terrible problem but,” he stopped fleetingly, fixing everyone with a blazing gaze. “We’re not doomed. In light of the revelations about my temporary plan, like Hecate and myself, we should be optimistic about the whole situation. Otherwise, there really will be no hope for anyone.”
When Vladimir had finished, his words hung in the air until Hecate spoke, as she came back from a faraway land.
“What will you do when you’ve found the solution to this problem?” she eventually asked, her eyes sparkling once more with an unnatural, icy fire.
Vladimir didn’t answer at first, himself now the one lost in thought. Ultimately, he turned and fixed her with a fierce stare.
“This academy will offer rigorous training and then, once I feel completely secure with the decisions made, I’ll permit the strongest to stand up to Mortimer and his followers.”
For the final time, a silence fell about the room, as all considered this proposition. At long last, Hecate nodded in understanding and approval of Vladimir’s plan. Soon, this acceptance was followed by everyone in the room, including Edmund, who had finally acknowledged that the world’s greatest enemy was really back to wreak his revenge.
As everyone began to leave the safety of the meeting chamber and entered the gloomy corridors once more, after Vladimir had declared the meeting closed, no one, not even Hecate, heard his silent prayer.
Whoever hears this, Vladimir thought, searching deep within himself and looking up into unseen heavens. Please let me be right in my beliefs with regards to this ominous matter? Otherwise, he added gravely. If I’m wrong, then our future will forever be filled with darkness, devastation and death.
Subsequently, after he had finished his hopeful prayer, Vladimir too left the protection of his meeting chamber, before he was swiftly swallowed up by darkness.