Everdeep (The Night Watchmen Series Book 4), p.1Candace Knoebel
The Born in Flames Trilogy
Born in Flames (Born in Flames Trilogy, #1)
Embracing the Flames (Born in Flames Trilogy, #2)
From the Embers (Born in Flames Trilogy, #3)
The Night Watchmen Series
The Gramm Curse (Night Watchmen, #0.5)
Everlasting (Night Watchmen, #1)
Evernight (Night Watchmen, #2)
Everlost (Night Watchmen, #3)
Everdeep (Night Watchmen, #4)
A Game of Hearts Series
by Candace Knoebel & Sonya Loveday
This book is a work of fiction. Any reference to historical events, real people-living or dead, real locales is entirely coincidental and used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Everdeep. Copyright © 2016 by Candace Knoebel
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes. If you are reading this book and you have not purchased it or won it in an author/publisher contest, this book has been pirated. Please delete and support the author by purchasing the ebook from one of its many distributors.
Cover design by Ravven.
Interior book design by Candace Knoebel.
The text for this book features Jellyka Castle Queen.
Edited by Cynthia Shepp.
Published by Candace Knoebel
For anyone who has ever lost someone dear to your heart.
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
— NORMAN COUSINS
I THINK THE WORLD HAS forgotten all color.
Or maybe I have. Maybe life’s gaping mouth has finally opened up and swallowed me whole, and I’m sitting in a dark shadow as life passes by on fast-forward. As bitterness and regret pour from my heart like anesthesia in my veins. Filling my soul until I’m numb from head to toe with nothing left in my eyes.
I’m seeing everything in black and white. Seeing everything and nothing in the same.
I run my bleeding hands under the water in the bathroom, and then splash its coolness onto my face. Stare into the triangular, jagged shard of mirror left hanging on the wall in front of me. The one I broke just minutes ago. Only half of my face shows, severed off at the nose and corner of the left side of my mouth.
That’s how I feel. Broken. A disfigured remnant of who I once was.
Because my mother is dead.
Gone forever, and I don’t know what’s worse—that it was done by the hands of Bael, or that she chose her own death.
Buckets of lead fill my legs, buckling my knees, and I have to brace the edges of the sink for strength because I know if I fall, there will be no getting back up, and that would make her sacrifice purposeless. I won’t dishonor her that way. I won’t be the weak, mindless girl everyone thinks I am. That everyone expects me to be.
I’m going to tear through every inch of this earth until I find Clara and Bael, and then I’m going to deliver a death so painful that not even their souls will be safe.
I breathe out, but my lungs still feel like the world’s pressing its weight against them.
It’s Jaxen knocking on the door, hovering like he’s done since our return to Ethryeal City two weeks ago. Since Seamus assigned us to this house that isn’t ours. A house filled with memories of the family who abandoned the Coven in the wake of the uprising.
We had returned to a city that matched my soul. A city so broken… so twisted from betrayal and flattened by truths, there was nothing left to do but rebuild over the crippled foundation. So we built our walls stronger. Reinforced our bones with iron. Glued our pieces back together into a durable, more resilient form.
The city and me, we’re no longer naive.
Since that fateful night at the manor, Seamus, Mack, and even my father has pulled through in ways I never thought possible. In two weeks, like cool water poured over a bursting flame, they’ve managed to take a rioting city and calm it. Open its doors to those whose homes have been burned to the ground. Whose livelihoods have been stolen. They’ve managed to pull wool over the eyes of the United Nations, promising that the ever-growing threat known as the Darkyns is being handled.
But most importantly, they’ve managed to bring a city so diverse in its beliefs back together through tragedy.
I open the door, forcing a smile to my lips, and face Jaxen.
His calloused hand brushes against my cheek. “Ready?”
I nod, despite the refusal resting in my belly like a pot of boiling acid just waiting to be tipped over.
I don’t want to see anyone. Don’t want to pretend everything is okay. But what I want and what’s right isn’t the same thing anymore. Trusting my choices doesn’t come as easy as it did. I feel like I’ve been tipped upside down and all my insides have rushed to my brain, preventing me from thinking clearly.
We leave the house that overlooks the canal, which is now empty of floating caravans selling merchandise. The once-turquoise waters churn under the pewter sky. The grass and hedges lining the sidewalks are overgrown and littered with balled-up flyers portraying Clara as a traitor to our Coven.
Elites who have remained true to our cause march in organized groups throughout the city’s streets, guns pressed tightly against their chests. Doors are locked. Windows are boarded up. Footsteps fill the hauntingly quiet streets where magic has scarred the brick walls from the many battles that took place within this sacred city the night the Veil dropped and the Darkyns tried their best to overrun us.
That was when the beginning of the end commenced.
On the Jumbotron, the woman whose face has delivered more than her fair share of bad news is telling everyone that High Priest Seamus Sullivan has returned and, with the help of the Rebellion and our Elite armies, Ethryeal City is now deemed a safe zone. That all Darkyn threats against the city have been erased. She’s asking everyone who still remains true to the Divine and to the Primeval Coven to please contact the hotline number that’s scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Orders will be given.
But most importantly, she asks that everyone please refrain from exposing our kind to humans.
Jaxen takes my hand in his as we head over a bridge toward the section of the city mapped off for those who are differe
It was the only way to keep the riots under control.
The Watchmen society isn’t as accepting of them as we are. In the aftermath of a very real Darkyn threat and almost losing their homes and prized city, understanding and acceptance of outsiders are the last things on the residents of Ethryeal City’s mind. Protests about keeping the bloodlines pure and about the safety of our people being put in unnecessary jeopardy happen daily outside the fence. Signs glued to wooden stakes with slanderous words are hoisted up into the air as witches and hunters stand on their soapboxes and revolt against the idea of integration, which was proposed by Seamus and backed by the two remaining High Priests as one of the many changes needing to happen within this Coven.
Keeping Evangeline’s pack and all the others who are different separated keeps them alive.
Jaxen’s family and General Sterling have remained within the sequester since our return. Those who have tried to attack them have been taken to the disciplinary ward—the place where Seamus has assigned us to work until further notice.
Of course, this didn’t go over well with the lot of us. We didn’t understand why he’d put us there when there was so much we needed to do. Like how we need to plan how we’re going to destroy the Exanimator and how we’re going to take out Bael and Clara on their home turf. Or our dire need to keep up our momentum now that the Veil has dropped and Clara and the Underground have been exposed.
We didn’t leave his office until he finally relented and explained his reasons—because this is the only building in Ethryeal City Seamus never had access to.
Every Priest and Priestess had a job before the fall of the High Priesthood. A solitary role to fulfill. Seamus was in charge of economical responsibilities. Clara oversaw the Elite programs. A few of the others shared responsibilities with overseeing the Watchmen units all around our nation.
But it was Evelyn—Chett’s aunt—who oversaw all disciplinary and experimentation responsibilities. She’s the wild card in all of this.
Under the cover of night, we were given our mission—to uncover the ageless secret of just how Chett and any other novice or Watchmen were able to change their behavior through correction. Is it even real? Or were they being used by Evelyn for something more sinister because Chett’s aunt hasn’t followed the same legacy the rest of his family has when it comes to hating witches? When the uprising of the Darkyns happened almost a month ago, she left her Priestess position to stand beside Clara in the war.
Two former Priestess witches looking to overthrow all hunters.
It all made sense when we learned she was recently widowed by a Carter. I can’t help but guess how her hunter husband lost his life or the reasons why… to become a Darkyn and gain her power to use with her own free will. Just like Clara and every other Darkyn who steps inside the Exanimator.
Seamus says we have to take her methods into consideration. Had she planned this all along? Were those who have been released from the correctional facility, those who now serve in the armies we’ll be sending into the Underground shortly, walking weapons she created who will turn on us?
We’re the only ones Seamus trusts to see this through, and so we took on this side mission in hopes that we could rule out any foul play and continue forward with attacking the Underground as a whole, healthy army.
Jezi and Weldon are waiting out front when we stop outside the wall of windows leading into the dome-shaped building. Small cracks run up the sides, scarring its beauty. The pond lining the front is filled with murky water. It once gleamed under the dried-up fountain that used to run down the slope of the building.
I try not to watch for too long when I notice her hip brushes against his and how he smirks at her, like he reads her so well. How his hands flex at his sides, like it’s taking everything in him to keep from touching her when she so obviously wants him to. They’ve been inseparable since the night everything took a turn for the worse, though they’ve made no mention of a decision to put their reservations about being in a relationship aside or not.
“Where are Gavin and Cassie?” I ask, looking around to see if they’re behind us.
Jaxen follows my movements, searching for his brother. “It’s been nearly a week since I’ve seen that asswipe. I haven’t even gotten one of his annoying ‘Good Morning’ phone calls at four AM.”
Weldon clears his throat, the sound somewhat uncomfortable. “They’re not coming,” he says quietly. “He called me early this morning. Cassie’s having a rough day, so he’s going to use the downtime to do some more research on the curse and Mourdyn.”
Jezi flinches, wrapping her arms around herself. “What exactly do you mean by rough? I just saw her last week and she was fine.”
Weldon rubs at the back of his neck, his eyes two lakes of sorrow. “She’s declining. Fast.”
My stomach lurches as the truth punches us all in the gut. The curse.
I look over at Jaxen, who’s chewing on the corner of his lip, his eyebrows furrowed in pain.
“And he didn’t call me?” he asks.
“He didn’t want to worry you. He took her to your mom,” Weldon says to Jaxen. “She said she has some kind of medicine that will help Cassie. If anyone can help her, it’s your mom.”
We all avoid eye contact as we digest what this really means. Cassie’s sick. Sick by a curse that can’t be undone unless I do something that could forever change our world—wake Mourdyn.
Jaxen looks eaten with guilt and anger.
Weldon grips his shoulder. Waits for Jaxen to look at him. “It’s going to work out this time. None of us, especially not Gavin, will let anything happen to her.”
Jaxen nods before sharply inhaling, pulling himself back together the way he always does.
Jezi pulls out a cigarette and lights it, her hands shaking a little. After taking a long inhale, she says, “Not to change subjects, but I hate Seamus for assigning us here. I don’t think I can take another minute of their screams.”
Weldon takes the cigarette from her hand, steps on it, and then lightly bumps into her shoulder with a smirk when she glares at him. “You’re too pretty to smoke. Besides, the worst is almost over. We just have to get the info Seamus is looking for.”
Jezi snorts and looks up at him through the corner of her eyes. “Yeah, and you’ve suddenly become charming. We’re no closer to figuring out if Chett’s change is real or not than we are to living in a peaceful world.”
“Chett can’t remember,” Jaxen reminds her, kicking his heel up against the wall and leaning back, arms folded across his chest.
“It’s not like there aren’t ways around that,” Jezi counters. She flaps her arms out and releases a frustrated sigh. “If you’d just let me in his head—”
Jaxen snorts. “So you could possibly turn him into a walking vegetable?” he says, cutting her off. “We don’t know what kind of magic was used to alter his personality and beliefs. His mind could be a cluster of traps that, if set off, could render him a living dead person for the rest of his life.”
“I’m not so sure that’d be such a bad thing,” Weldon says through the side of his mouth.
I elbow him.
Jaxen shifts in his stance, turning with his hand pressed against the small device in his ear. “Sir?” he says, taking a call from someone. Probably Mack or Seamus. “Are you… are you sure?” He’s silent, his face paling a little. “Okay,” he finally says, and then turns back to us. He clears his throat as he looks at his feet.
Whatever he has to say, it isn’t going to be pleasant.
“That was Seamus. It seems we’ve been given access to take part in the correction process in the disciplinary ward.” He pulls at his earlobe.
“Seriously?” Jezi asks, her voice steeped in ho
He nods. “The scientist we’re assigned to is under the impression we’re in an apprenticeship for this division, but it’s only so we can learn how Chett was changed by observation. There will be a briefing on what our roles will be, and then we’ll assist him in the procedure for correction.”
His voice is unnaturally dry. It twists a knot in my stomach.
“Sheesh. Who’s the unlucky victim?” Weldon asks.
Jaxen looks over at me, sorrow in his eyes. “Katie.”
I CAN’T REMEMBER WHY THERE’S blood on my hands.
I blink and blink again, trying to figure out why there’s so much of it, but everything around me looks so blurry, like the room has been coated in oil. My brain’s chugging in reverse, picking through a field of memories as heat pulses behind my eyes. My heart beats raggedly, pumping barrels of blood to my face. The last thing I remember is Jaxen telling me something. Something that felt like the rug was yanked out from under me.
Realization snaps my spine straight.
I glance down, the haze slowly vanishing like fog in the sunlight. My fists are raw, pieces of skin ripped away from my knuckles. Angry knots have formed in the cordage of my muscles, and my head feels like someone’s banging on it with a chisel and hammer.
What the hell did I do?
Voices beat at my eardrums as I struggle to grasp what’s going on around me. I see the muscles in Jaxen’s throat flexing and straining as he shouts, but his words sound as if he’s speaking underwater.
“She… know… was doing,” I barely make out, his voice trembling from what sounds like an overdose of adrenaline. Blood covers his hands too. He’s standing in front of me with his hands behind him, circled around me as if he’s trying to protect me.
I swallow as the voices grow stronger with every tug of air I take.
“Bullshit!” Mack shouts angrily, spit flying from his mouth. “She nearly killed Seamus!”
My stomach drops to the wooden floor with a sick thud. Killed?
Everdeep (The Night Watchmen Series Book 4) by Candace Knoebel / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes