Paranormal & Urban Fantasy – 210 Pages
About the Book:
Magical outlaws roam free on the West Coast. The enforcers are stretched thin in their efforts to stem the tide of chaos. The Council headquarters is on the brink of assault, and the lives of the Council members hang in the balance. At the center of it all, is Saba Qureshi, a woman scorned by the draconian measures of the Council. They executed her grandfather and robbed her family of their status and fortune. Now Saba is coming for them and she’s not alone…
Saba Qureshi, Karachi, Pakistan, Prison, 20 years ago
Saba stood beneath the red glow of the tower as she clutched her mother’s hand. A silver bracelet sparkled around her wrist, although she didn’t understand why she needed it. There were so many things she didn’t understand lately. Her grandfather was branded an outlaw. His school had been shut down. The Council arrested and imprisoned him along with all his professors and students. Why had the Council done all these things? What had her grandfather done that was so wrong? Earlier that morning, when she asked her mother where they were going, she knelt before her with glistening eyes and said, “We are going to see your grandfather.” But refused to elaborate any further.
Thunder echoed in the sky above as the crimson glow of the tower shone beneath the iron gray clouds. Her mother’s dress rippled in the wind and all else was silent. The people who stood behind Saba, and her mother stared forward; their stoic faces unreadable in her eyes. Her small hand perspired in her mother’s grasp and her skin prickled with goosebumps. Why were they all gathered here? Where was her grandfather?
Before them was a raised platform with steps that led up from the ground. Behind them was a prison, a stone fortress that stabbed at the sky.
Distant flashes of lightning flickered in the clouds above.
Raindrops sprinkled the ground at Saba’s feet.
No one uttered a word.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Council march through the crowd. Their faces betrayed no emotion as they ascended the steps, and looked outward across the multitude. At the center was a tall imperious woman with pale skin. Rain drizzled from the sky and trickled down
her hooked nose. Her brown hair was pulled back tightly in a bun, and her steel-gray eyes looked beyond the crowd. At her right side, was a man in his mid-forties. His light brown skin was tinged with red beneath the glowing tower, and the breeze blew through his short black hair. Next to him, was a tiny frail woman with narrow slits for eyes.
Saba shrank from her presence.
Lastly, was a man of wide girth with a dark complexion. His massive nostrils flared beneath a severe gaze, and his mouth was fixed in a frown.
Then finally, Saba’s grandfather appeared with two grey-coated enforcers behind him. The three of them marched through the crowd, then up the steps where they stood before the Council on the stage.
Saba didn’t understand. What was about to happen? Her eyes flickered urgently between her mother and the Council. “Mother! Why is grandpa up there?”
But her mother only shook her head and hushed her.
The woman at the center of the stage stepped forward and spoke. “Amir Zarqawi. For the outlawed practice of Necromancy, the Council hereby sentences you to death. Do you have any last words?” Bronte Kastellanos’ words boomed over the crowd as rain drizzled from the sky.
A cold weight sank in Saba’s stomach as the head councilwoman’s ominous words echoed in her ears. “Mother! You must do something!”
But her mother only wept. “There is nothing we can do.”
Amir Zarqawi locked eyes with Kastellanos. He held his chin high and dropped his shoulders. “You cannot stop the spread of knowledge,” he said.
The head councilwoman glowered at him and gave the signal to the executioner.
One of the enforcers gripped Amir’s arm and turned him to face the crowd. His fingers intersected, pointed downwards, then curled into fists as he brought his right hand over his left. “Look away, child!” Saba’s mother said as she shielded her daughter’s eyes with her hand. Saba twisted her head this way and that, trying to pry her fingers away but to no avail. In her blindness, she heard the crack of lightning followed by the rancid odor of burnt flesh. She finally managed to rip her mother’s hand away when through misted eyes she saw her grandfather’s corpse tumble from the stage and hit the ground with a thud.
Wisps of smoke rose in curls from his charred remains as thunder roared in the sky. Saba shrieked.
Saba Qureshi, Midtown Manhattan, New York, Present
She stood on the balcony and gazed at the Council headquarters a few blocks away. The imposing glass tower pierced the black night while cars scurried like insects below. Here and there, orbs of light burned in office windows, but most had gone dark for the evening.
Saba stared at the glowing skyscraper through a square of red shimmering light between her hands. She could see the wards around the complex as thick, protective domes, invisible to the unaided eye. Aside from that, security was minimal. A few squads of enforcers patrolled the adjacent city blocks, and security within was stripped to its bare bones—just as she anticipated. No doubt the Council was scrambling to put out the fires on the other side of the continent. A corner of Saba’s mouth lifted. Her plan was working.
The Council would soon pay for what they did to her family. Their judgment drew near. “When are we going to knock those self-righteous bastards on their asses?” Maeve asked from behind.
Saba released her spell and turned to face her.
The pale-skinned woman stood there with her arms crossed and a red leather jacket around her shoulders. Her platinum blonde hair fell to her ears, and a tiny piercing sparkled at her nose. Now that Maeve was free of that miserable rock in Canada, she deviated as far as she could from the dull, gray uniform she had been forced to wear.
“Patience, Maeve. We will strike soon.”
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