Taken from Talisman Of El (Arcadia, Book 1), Prologue
Derkein’s heart skipped a beat. ‘What … What happened?’
‘Natural causes. Apparently, his heart gave out.’
‘What do you mean “apparently”?’
With a hesitant glance at Derkein, his father opened the front pocket of the bag and pulled out a burnished copper talisman with an engraved steel band and a circular crevice. ‘Luther and I dug this up in the Roncador Mountains in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The earthquake that hit South America two months ago … We caused it when we removed this from the earth.’ He looked down at the talisman and then back at Derkein, distress clouding his features. ‘The moment the earthquake struck, we passed out. Two hours later, we woke up on Manhattan Bridge.’
‘I don’t understand what you’re saying.’
‘We didn’t fly to New York.’
‘Then how did you get here?’
His father started packing the weapons back inside the bag. ‘I don’t know. Three weeks ago, Luther called me and told me that someone was following him. I think whoever was after him wanted the talisman, and when they didn’t find it, they killed him. Now they’re after me.’
‘So give it to them. Dad, this isn’t worth your life.’
‘I can’t. This is my only connection to Arcadia.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘England,’ his father replied. ‘Thomas might be able to help me. If what he told me about these beings is true, I can’t be around you. They got to Luther. I won’t lose you too.’ He turned around and stared at the portrait covering the safe.
‘I miss Mum too, but it’s been five years. Give up before you end up killing yourself. Arcadia doesn’t exist.’
His father looked at him. ‘It’s out there. I’m going to find it. I will bring her back.’
‘Mum’s dead,’ Derkein snapped. ‘When are you going to get that?’
‘I have to go,’ his father said in a calm voice. ‘I’ll call you when I get there.’
‘I’ll be fine. I always am.’
‘Dad, please –’
An ear-piercing scream ripped through the building. Derkein froze, his eyes the only things that moved. His gaze fixed on his father, who was rummaging through his bag. He took out a black pistol and turned to Derkein, a tortured expression on his face as he placed the weapon in his son’s trembling hand.
‘Shoot anything that moves,’ his father instructed. He placed the talisman around Derkein’s neck, tucking it inside his shirt. ‘Don’t let it out of your sight.’ Cupping Derkein’s face in his hands, he made him meet his gaze. ‘I’m so sorry I got you involved in this.’ He grabbed another gun from the bag.
‘What exactly have you got yourself into, Dad?’
His father looked at him with a solemn expression. ‘If anything happens to me, you find Thomas. Tell him … Tell him he was right.’ He headed towards the door.
‘Dad, wait.’ Derkein went after him. ‘Dad –’
The double doors burst open with a bang.
His father opened fire. ‘Derkein, shoot!’ he yelled.
Derkein glanced around the room in panic and confusion. He saw no one but his father. Then he felt a sharp pain in his arm, heard his shirt tear, and cried out. Something warm dribbled down his arm, and when he placed his hand on it, he saw blood. His father screamed, and he looked up and saw him flying across the room, crashing into a bookshelf that collapsed under him.
‘Dad!’ Derkein sprinted towards him but felt a powerful blow across his chest that sent him flying backwards, and he landed hard on the floor, his gun falling out of his hand. Staggering to his feet, he glanced around for whatever had attacked him but saw nothing. His gaze landed on his father, who was groaning … and then he was gone. There were no bright lights or loud noise. He had just vanished.