Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Shadow Stalker: Into My Own (Episode 15) by Renee Scattergood

Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn't start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties.

Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy. She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6).

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About the Book

Just when Auren thinks she'd had enough of Kado's overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali's death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don't feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It's time she takes matters into her own hands.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

Everything in my life was crumbling around me. I had lost my two best friends in the world. After Jade was captured, Cali had become my best friend. She was the person I depended on for my sanity, and now she was gone too. The man I loved faced danger living with our enemy on a daily basis, and Kado only seemed interested in adding to my pain. He was never one for affectionate comfort, but he didn't seem to care at all lately how I was feeling. I hated him. I had to get ahold of myself though. If I kept crying like this he might decide I was too emotionally unstable, and I'd never get away to stop the Galvadi once and for all.

In that moment, I was tempted to leave Appolia for good. I could try to convince Makari to leave the Galvadi, and we could go off on our own somewhere while I figured out what to do about Drevin. Of course, he was more likely to side with Kado in his desire to keep me safe, so maybe I'd be better off on my own. I just couldn't stand the thought of losing one more person I loved. I might finally break and become the person Kado had seen in his vision on the Dark Isle.

I curled into a tighter ball and bit my lip to stifle my sobs as someone entered the alcove. I didn't have to see who it was to know it was Kado. Maybe if I didn't attract his attention, he'd leave me alone. No such luck though. He sat behind me on the floor, a little closer than was comfortable in that moment for two reasons. I didn't want to be anywhere near him, and he brushed against my sore thigh that he'd whipped raw with the switch only moments before. I gasped and resisted the urge to pull away when I felt his hand on my head.

"We need to talk," he said, softly.

I didn't speak or move. There was no point. I'd just wait for his lecture to start.

"I'm not here to lecture you, Auren. I'm here to apologize."

I pushed myself up onto my elbows, wondering if I'd heard him correctly. His expression was sincere and surprisingly remorseful. He had never apologized for punishing me before. Not once. Ever. I wasn't sure what to think.

"I was too hard on you under the circumstances," Kado admitted. "I know losing Cali was extremely difficult for you, and I know you're under a lot of pressure from all the expectations being placed on you. With everything that's happening, it's easy to forget how young you are. And more, with all the natural talent you have, and your rare abilities, it's easy to forget how little training you've received. It's unfair of me to expect you to accept death so readily, especially when I'm the reason you have not lived as a shadow stalker throughout your childhood."

I tried sitting up, but I was still in too much pain. Kado closed his eyes when I hissed through clenched teeth, then helped me sit up.

"Kado, I—"

"Let me finish and then you can speak."

I nodded.

"The people on Appolia fear death, and you've had that fear ingrained in you. Even now that you understand more about the shadow world, that fear still lurks inside. Nothing I say or do is going to change that. It's something you will have to come to terms with in your own time. Had I taken that into consideration when Cali was first captured, I could have helped you cope with your loss instead of expecting you to accept it. Things may have turned out much differently, so I'm just as responsible for your behavior as you are, and I'm sorry for that."

I wasn't sure what to say, so I nodded. I certainly never expected him to take responsibility for what I had done. I shifted on the hard ground and quickly regretted it. I turned away to hide the wince. This was a side of Kado I'd never seen before.

Kado gave my hand a squeeze. "What do you fear most about death?"

I opened my mouth to answer before realizing it wasn't something I had thought about in detail before. The more I considered it, the more I realized I wasn't afraid of death. "I know everyone I love is in the shadow world. I know I can see them any time I need them. It's not enough though. It's here that I miss them. It's here that I'll never see them again, hear their voices, or feel their arms around me."

"I do understand, Auren. That part is hard for all of us, but dwelling on it will only bring you pain. I know I don't show it, but I'm hurting over Cali too. I will miss her greatly. I still miss my wife, Raven, and she died over ten years ago. When Shai was with the Galvadi, and I thought I'd never see her alive again, there were days I thought I wouldn't be able to cope. So when I feel that way, I focus on what I need to be doing in that moment. It's hard, Auren, but it's what keeps the pain from overwhelming you, and eventually it passes. It never goes away entirely, but it becomes bearable."

"I wish it was that easy for me, but I can't stop—" Another sob escaped, so I bit my lip again to keep from breaking down. "I can't stop thinking about her."

Kado sighed. "Maybe it's the lack of closure, and the traumatic way Cali died."

"That could be it," I admitted. It didn't help that I still blamed myself for her death either.

"Then perhaps you should visit the shadow world and speak with her," Kado suggested.

Why hadn't I thought of that myself? Then again, I really didn't have a chance to consider it. The moment I had returned to Appolia after witnessing Cali's death, Kado punished me for going after her and risking my life.

I nodded. "I'd like that."

Kado gave my hand a squeeze as he stood and pulled me to my feet. I lowered my head to hide the grimace and took a deep breath to keep from crying out. I was about to shift when Kado stopped me.

"One thing before you go."

He put his hand over my thighs without actually touching them, and I knew he was healing me the moment I felt the warmth building. I watched him, dumbfounded. He'd never healed me after a punishment before. I was beginning to wonder if I'd fallen asleep and was dreaming this whole thing.

Kado finished, and I shifted before I could wake up in case it was just a dream. I didn't want to face the waking world without seeing Cali, even if it wasn't real. Then I thought about it. There was no way I'd feel that amount of pain without it waking me. I couldn't be asleep, but I still couldn't grasp this change in Kado.

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