Excerpt from book one of Oracle’s Legacy
St. Louis, Missouri
Laura mentally swept the motel room, but she gained no insight into what had caused the dead man in the corner of the room to claw out his own eyes and throat. She had never seen anything like it. Nothing about this made sense. House of River had sent agents out to look for the man, who had gone missing after finding out valuable information about the Oracle. There was talk about an assassin being after him, but no one in River would have sent out such a request. They needed him alive. And this man was House of River, so who else would have wanted him dead? Possibly another House that wanted the information he had.
The dead man was a keeper of records for River, the House of spirituality. He was one of the younger ones that could see into the past, like herself. Historians, as they were called. Because he was on a higher enlightenment level than she, he was privileged with access to many of the vaults of information that most other members of the House were not. So when it was discovered that he had breakthrough information, the Heads of River immediately had requested his presence. That was three weeks ago, and now he lay dead from self-mutilation.
Since his disappearance, rumors had begun to spread, suggesting that the Oracle’s power was waning. If that was the case, then the Structure was about to suffer a huge setback. Looking at the man in the corner, Laura shuddered. How can you claw out your own throat?
“Did you find anything?”
Laura turned to face one of the three Heads of River. Mary Alexander was the most influential of the leaders of the biggest House in the Structure—and the sourest, after this incident. She was a stout woman with a double chin and short black hair that was flipped up. The frightening woman looked like a politician in her dark-gray suit. Her light-brown skin came from her Dominican father, and her narrow, brown eyes looked at everything like it was beneath her, although she was the shortest one in the room.
Laura clasped her hands to keep them from shaking before answering, “Nothing, but I have only swept the surface.”
Armed with firsthand knowledge, this was a woman possessed. Fueled by ambition and dreams of power, Laura saw Mary’s past in great detail, especially her business practices. Not because she wanted to, but because Mary Alexander had no regrets about the things she had done for power, and so she never had suppressed any of her past. She was a daddy’s girl, and her father had taught her everything that had made him successful. She was known for her brutal yet effective headstrong tactics, and not many people dared to cross this woman. She was vying for more power with her seat at the head of River, and she did not keep it a secret. Anyone who believed himself or herself to be an obstacle became fair game.
“Pissed” was the only explanation Laura could give for that expression. “I’m trying to dig deeper, but this was a higher-level incident. This will require more time,” Laura said.
“Higher-level? How high?” Mary’s expression grew softer immediately. Her dark-brown eyes unfocused as she began to wonder the very thing Laura was wondering. Who else wanted at this man, and why? The woman rubbed her chubby hands together and then placed them on Laura’s forehead. Mary was using her abilities to enhance Laura’s powers. A surge of energy went through Laura’s body, amplifying her visions. The images in the room from the past went from blank to vivid instantly.
Laura stood before a huge, black figure, an evil image of a being. Blacker than the night sky. A void. Fear clamped onto her, holding her in place. Her vision focused on the eyes. The eyes were death, chaining her, dragging her into its presence, welcoming her into its cold embrace. Her soul burned, and pain seeped from every pore, oozing like her own blood, which was soon to spill—but not just yet. There was still more time. Plenty of time. The being wanted to make sure she felt the pain over and over before her blood spilled. It did not smile, but she felt its wicked pleasure. A thousand needles penetrated the very depths of her. Her voice became raw before she realized she was screaming.
The figure was gone, and the room was back as she remembered. But the images were still there, so fresh. Playing over and over …
“What went on here?” Mary asked, breathless. She looked scared but not as scared as Laura. Not nearly scared enough. Whatever that had been, it was coming for her next. It knew her, saw into her soul, and was prepared to take her. It enjoyed her taste and was going to take more. Laura backed up into a wall and went down on her knees, praying. She chanted words she had not chanted since she was a child. She had seen evil in its purest form.
“Talk to me. What did you see?” Mary insisted.
“It wants me. It’s coming for me.” Laura shook uncontrollably. She looked up into Mary’s face. “You killed me!” She cried hot tears.
“You’re fine. It was just past events. Remember, you can only see past events. Laura,” Mary said, and smacked her. “Get hold of yourself.”
Laura tried to focus, tried to think, but nothing made sense. That figure was so real. It was right in the room with her. She looked around to the man. He had done that to himself. Fear had driven him to kill himself in such a manner. A few seconds longer with that … being … and she might have done the same. Would have done the same.
“What I saw was not human. What he saw was not human. It possessed him, drove him to that.”
“Did he say anything?”
“Rambling, nothing but ramblings,” Laura could barely remember hearing anything. “There was something. Demon … something.”
“Demon’s Wrath?” Mary’s eyes popped wide open.
“I don’t know … maybe. I … What is Demon’s Wrath?” By the silence coming from the woman, it was clear it wasn’t good. From the images, it had to be worse.
Mary called in the cleanup crew. “Clean it up. Everything. We won’t find anything out.” She looked at Laura with apologetic eyes. “I’m sorry, Laura, but you may be right. I think I just got you killed.”
Somehow Laura had already known that the moment the void had looked back at her.