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       Damian's Immortal (War of Gods, Book 3), p.1

           Lizzy Ford
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Damian's Immortal (War of Gods, Book 3)
Damian’s Immortal

  War of Gods, Book III


  By Lizzy Ford


  Kettlecorn Press


  Damian’s Immortal copyright 2011 by Lizzy Ford

  Cover art and design copyright 2014 by Regina Wamba, Mae I Design

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Chapter One

  Jule lifted his head to the night sky and closed his eyes. Fat raindrops soaked his clothing and left him chilled. He’d hitchhiked between towns and walked cross-country, admiring the Irish landscape as he went and cursing the cold, incessant rain of late autumn. Finally, he’d reached the top of a hill overlooking a small, familiar village that glowed with warmth.

  The walk calmed his irritation at being powerless for the first time since the Schism. It had been two days since he felt the ripple of power that marked the making of a new Black God. He’d last felt that surge a few hundred thousand years ago, when Czerno had slain his predecessor and claimed the Black God’s mantle. While he recalled little else of his time before the Schism, Jule couldn’t help the nagging feeling he was missing something important about the transition between an old and new god.

  He looked over his shoulder again at the dark landscape behind him. The hair on the back of his neck had been standing for the past mile he’d walked, only he wasn’t entirely certain why. The wave of magic had short-circuited his Guardian powers and dropped him on the other side of Ireland. His phone was fried, and his only recourse was to reach the local Guardians. Instead of helping his brother the White God navigate the transition, he walked the hills of Ireland alone, unable to remember why he’d decided to put only one station of Guardians in Ireland.

  “Probably because you never thought you’d have to cross Ireland on foot.” The voice he’d dreaded hearing finally spoke. Jule drew a deep breath and faced the small, grandfatherly man with eyes the color of an Irish meadow. The rain didn’t touch the Watcher, and Jule crossed his arms.

  “Didn’t think you were talking to me,” he said.

  “Not by my choice.”

  “You mind if I get out of the rain before we do this?”

  “Rain doesn’t bother a real immortal,” the Watcher said with a trace of triumph in his voice.

  The oldest beings in the universe, the Watchers were supposed to observe and were forbidden from interfering in human affairs. At least, they had been until about a year ago, when the White God found the first Oracle since the Schism. Jule understood the importance of her appearance, just as he knew all bets were off once she was revealed. What he remembered of the Watchers came from the Schism, when they’d openly hunted and killed Naturals-- humans with extraordinary gifts-- that they felt were threats to them.

  “The only thing bothering me is you. Say your piece and get out of here,” Jule replied.

  “You were expecting me.”

  “Why should that surprise you? I’ve been expecting you for years. The opportunistic bastards that you all are, you’d take advantage of a time like this.”

  The Watcher clenched his teeth, green eyes flaring with light and spinning before he regained his temper. Jule was happy to piss off the little green-eyed troll. The Watchers thought him lesser, because he’d chosen the mortal world over the immortal one.

  “Chosen is the wrong word,” the Watcher said. “You were banished.”

  “Happily banished.” Jule baited the immortal creature. “You won’t jerk me around like you did Damian.”

  “Is that a challenge?”

  “It’s a dare, my little friend.”

  The Watcher paused again to rein in his composure and then spoke in a reluctant tone. “The Grey God has torn the fabric between the mortal and immortal realms. We discovered there is a creature here that can steal the Guardians’ power and use it to rupture the breach. It’s left the Black God in an advantageous position, since all but the White and Grey Gods are powerless.”

  “What do I need to do to right this?” Jule asked.

  “We’re stitching this tear back together from the immortal realm. We can’t fix it from the mortal realm. We don’t know who can, but we know who can destroy our efforts.”

  “Someone here in Ireland,” Jule guessed. “Or you would’ve let me go home.”

  “I’d rather someone else take this on, but you’re my only option,” the Watcher said in plain distaste. “Yes, I kept you from returning with Damian to North America. The creature that can prevent us from healing the rupture is near here. She’s called the Magician. We’re not sure what this Magician is, but her powers are … unique and dangerous. She feeds off the powers of Guardians, so we stripped the Guardians of power.”

  “Leaving them and the humans vulnerable to the Black God. Great plan, Watcher.”

  “We didn’t take this decision lightly! If her powers grow enough, she’ll not only prevent us from stitching up the tear between realms, but she’ll open the doorway between the two worlds. You know well enough what the Others will do in the human realm,” the Watcher said.

  “Make the Black God look like Santa Claus,” Jule said with a frown. “So you sapped us to keep her from absorbing our power. What’s this have to do with me?”

  “I’m glad you ask,” the Watcher said, his gaze darkening. “I want you to find her and kill her.”

  “That’s it?”

  “That’s it.”

  “Give me back my powers, so I can find her,” Jule said.

  “I’m going to give a select group of Guardians back their power, but you’re not among them.”

  “You want me to find a creature with untold powers with my human self? You really think I’ll succeed?”

  “You better. She’s hiding from us somewhere nearby. We tracked her here and could get no farther. We need her found and distracted until we can enact a better plan,” the Watcher said. “If she kills you, nothing is lost. If you kill her, you save us the trouble of Plan B.”

  “And if I refuse?”

  “I’ll have you killed.”

  Jule laughed loudly. “You really think that’ll work on me?”

  “What mortal doesn’t fear death?” the Watcher asked, his brow furrowing.

  “This one,” Jule said with a broad smile. “If I succeed, I want my powers back. On the spot. You see, Watcher, I’m not stupid enough to think you really want me to fail. You wouldn’t ask someone you hated unless you were desperate. Or, unless I’m the only person who can do it.”

  The Watcher’s eyes flashed. Jule studied him, guessing his words to be correct by the anger on the Watcher’s face.

  “Fine.” The Watcher all but spat the words. “If you succeed, you-- and everyone else-- will have their powers returned.” He appeared to sulk for a moment then grew thoughtful. “Of course, there’s always another option.”

  “And that would be?”

  “Returning to the immortal realm with me and regaining your powers.”

  Jule frowned. He wasn’t sure how returning to the immortal realm would make a difference. A Watcher was stronger than any Guardian in the mortal realm, except for Damian, and more powerful than any immortal in
the immortal realm, except for an Original Being. Whatever this Watcher was planning, it wasn’t good.

  “No, thanks,” Jule said. He turned and started walking down the hill.

  “You don’t remember the immortal-- ”

  “Nope. We’re done.”

  The Watcher lingered for a moment. Jule felt the creature’s presence disappear and dwelled on the odd arrangement. The Watcher had been up front with him about the mission, which meant there was much more than the immortal creature was saying. The little bastards never spoke the absolute truth.

  The rain fell harder, and Jule broke into a trot. He hadn’t visited the Guardians’ Irish station in years, mainly because Ireland had no regular vamp population. He continued at his quick pace into the town, glancing over the quaint downtown strip lined with small cars and pubs. He slowed as he reached an intersection and made his way through the town to the outskirts, where small houses lined the street.

  He walked until he recognized the Guardians’ station, a single story house nestled between two similar houses and marked by a star and an arrow – the White God’s symbols – in the corner of one window. He felt no wards protecting the station and shivered, wondering how many Guardians would be lost between now and when he could find and kill the Magician. Without their powers, the Guardians were vulnerable against the Black God’s vamps.

  The door opened before he knocked, and the Guardian within looked him over. Jule couldn’t help but feel some relief at the sight of a warm, well-lit interior.

  “We’ve been waiting for you,” the blond-haired Guardian said in a light Irish lilt. “You look like shit.”

  “Feel like shit,” Jule said and entered. “Damian call?”

  “Yes, ikir called earlier and said you’d be in today. Sean got you some clothes before he went to the pub for his shift.”

  “Why is a Guardian working at the pub?” Jule asked.

  “We’re bored,” the Guardian said with a shrug. “Sean’s from here, and we got nothin’ to kill.”

  “All righty,” Jule said. “I take it you know by now you’ve got no Guardian powers?”

  “It’s bad, Jule,” the Guardian said, pursing his lips. “Ikir ordered a no-engagement protocol. We’re supposed to lay low and avoid vamps. He said there’s a new Black God. Ikir thinks the new Black God is reorganizing. But once they start attacking …”

  “We fight, like always. Just have worse odds,” Jule said, trying not to let his own alarm show. As the leader of the Eastern Hemisphere, he wasn’t about to let his Guardians know he was worried.

  “Aye,” the Guardian said. “I have a new phone for you, too.” He closed the front door and went into another room.

  Jule looked around the cozy house. He needed to contact Damian, the White God, above all, and share what the Watcher had told him. Damian might have some insight into what was going on, and who the Magician was.

  He trotted up the stairs to the second floor of the house and walked into the bathroom, eager for his first hot shower in days.

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