Bodaway Lakota is a faithful follower of the Covenant-and a very skilled assassin. A Naiche warrior, he is only sixteen, but he has killed many in the name of their cause. He believes he is saving the world from the Reborn, but when he meets Natalie Schultz, one of the Awakened Reborn, he knows he is outclassed in every way.
He is given the task of killing her-beheading her like so many others at the hand of his trusty sword. To outsmart Natalie, he hides in plain sight. He alters his appearance and his name, calling himself Tristan-and she welcomes him into her life and becomes his friend. Despite their friendly fiction, however, dark events haunt them both and bring them ever closer together.
Tristan could never have believed himself capable of feelings for a Reborn, but he is drawn to Natalie in spite of himself. Their friendship is forbidden and could cost Tristan his life. He must soon make a horrible choice: will he side with his clan, or sacrifice everything for the girl he's supposed to kill?
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COVENANT OF THE REBORN The SALVATION Trilogy
By T. E. Joshua
Abbott PressCopyright © 2014 T. E. Joshua
All rights reserved.
The Promised Child
THE DARK HORROR, WHICH WOULD not end for another five years, began with the dismemberment of a man who had been targeted for beheading by my sword. This was the night that everything changed, for better and for worse. I was a killer, and I would not change.
I hid behind a tree trunk and some wild thorn bushes, watching for any subtle movement around me. For several minutes, I waited and pondered the bloodshed to come—the ripping of flesh from bone and muscle, the popping of eyeballs, the squirting of dark red liquid. Only the thoughts of sinister acts lay dormant.
Then I saw him—the man I was supposed to behead.
A red truck drove up to the Mr. C's gas station, and the man stepped out. He wore a gray suit and tie. He looked fresh and clean-cut, typical for his type. He went to prepay for the fuel. I noted the truck's license plate, which matched the numbers on my wrinkled sheet of paper. It read DNV 185. That was when I made my move out of the woods for a surprise attack.
"There he is, Bodaway," I said to myself.
Then I noticed a small boy in a red sweater playing in the rear seats of the cab. As I emerged from the darkness and came into view under the streetlights, we made eye contact. The boy smiled at me. I ignored him and retrieved my weapon of choice, the sword of fire. To be unique, I offered manipulated the fire to cover the silver steel. The blade was still covered in the blood of my previous victim from two nights ago. A few more seconds passed; the boy continued to smile. He looked about five years old, maybe six.
Then, to my left, the man returned and began to pump his gas. Strangely enough, he didn't notice me—a suspicious character with long dark hair wielding a stainless-steel sword in the streetlights of the early morning. I came to a halt. The man slowly began to look my way. His eyebrows rose as he seemed to get flustered, and he finished pumping his gas. I glared at him with a devilish expression. There was no hiding my appearance; I was here to do a job.
The man was a pastor at a local church. The order to kill him was given to us by our medicine men. They received messages from the dark spirits about which Reborns needed to be executed.
In this case, the man was about to awaken into a faith giant. If that happened, it would have been much harder to kill him. Our god, Lucian, wanted him dead.
"Son, are you okay?" the man asked me.
I didn't respond.
I froze. I felt it—I felt his awakening powers rising, the incredible potential this man had if he continued to walk in his faith. It scared me a bit, but I had to remain calm, to be still as the waters of the night.
Then the small boy stepped out of the truck and began to tug on his father's pants. He said, "Daddy, Daddy, who is that scary-looking boy?"
It was true, I was a boy—a sixteen-year-old boy and a killer of the Reborn faith, a boy who followed in the footsteps of the Covenant of his great-grandfather. I'm not sure if I believed our religion to be true, but I obeyed as a son obeys his father's wishes.
However, the mere sight of the boy made me question beheading his father.
"Tristan, get back into the truck, son," the man ordered the boy, who promptly followed his dad's orders. I think my mere presence frightened him a bit, as he peeked out the back window with widened eyes.
Then the pastor turned back toward me and asked, "Son, why are you carrying a sword at this time of night? Do you need help?"
"I don't know," I said. I didn't know why I uttered those words. I felt a hint of guilt about taking this man's life while his son watched. The thousands I had murdered before tonight had been no problem, but this one was different. I couldn't bear to do it in front of his child.
We continued to lock eyes with each other as his suspicion of me grew. I could see it in his face. He knew something wasn't right with me.
Then, on the other side of Mr. C's gas station, my younger cousin, Aaron Lakota, crept out of the woods and drew his blade with his right hand. He probably thought that I had waited too long to kill the man. Aaron had wanted to murder him, but I had decided that it was my job, not his. I was the leader.
At that moment, however, the face of the small boy struck me cold, cold as worthless scum. To see his father's head come off would haunt him for life. Regardless of the thousands of people I had murdered, I couldn't stoop so low as to take this child's father from him. Not today. He would feel the same loss that I had with my own father. Even though he was alive, I was nothing more than a killing machine to him, one who did his bidding. The small boy was enough to convince me otherwise. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't!
I whispered to the man, "Sir, get back into your truck and drive away as fast as you can. Do you understand?"
He calmly glared at me as if I were a psychopath saying confusing words.
"If you don't do as I say, you will die. Consider this your lucky day. Now go," I warned.
He nodded his head in agreement and climbed into the driver's seat. He started up his engine. The pastor exited the parking lot of the gas station, accelerated down the street, and vanished into the eerie night.
Immediately, Alope Manwolf, my childhood best friend, appeared next to me from the darkness while I watched the truck speed down the street. Then Aaron marched over to us with a disappointed expression.
"What the hell just happened?" Aaron lashed out.
"Yeah, Bodaway, what happened?" Alope asked me.
"The Reborn pastor is getting away!" Aaron stated loudly as he paced around me.
Reborns was what we called Christians.
"I let him go," I answered as the little boy's smile played over and over in my mind. Aaron and Alope wouldn't have hesitated for a second to kill the pastor. It was a weak and human moment for me.
"Why?" Alope asked incredulously.
"It just didn't seem right. Besides, the man had his son with him."
Aaron continued to pace in circles with his left hand on his sweaty head, swinging his sword wildly with his right. The tail of his dirty jacket flapped in the early morning wind as he continued in frustration with my illogical decision. Normally, I wouldn't have hesitated to kill.
"That is crap. You're getting soft, cousin. You chickened out!" he yelled violently.
"That is not true. Bodaway is the most vicious killer of all of us," Alope argued, defending my reputation. "Besides, his ranking is in the single digits," she added.
"Then tell me why he just let a potential enemy go without reasonable cause?" Aaron asked Alope.
"Like I already told you," I answered, "he had his son with him. Killing a man while his child watches isn't my style, you know it's against our oral laws."
"So? A job is a job. Any other warrior wouldn't have given a damn," Aaron insisted.
"True, I couldn't do it with his son watching. If my father permits, we will come back later if he still is a threat to us. For now, he isn't," I said.
"What would your father say? We can't disappoint the chief!" Aaron said.
I didn't answer him. I couldn't care less about what my father thought of my inconsistent actions. One man wouldn't make a difference. He was just a man, nothing more.
Aaron couldn't bear to look at me. The pastor was to be our last kill before we headed back home to Red Valley.
"I'll explain to my father what happened. None of you will have to answer for me. It's all on me. Let's go," I ordered.
Alope and I began to walk from the parking lot back into the woods. I figured we could hitch a ride on the trailer of a local semi truck heading west back to the dry deserts of Arizona, the homeland of our people.
Then I felt a sudden rise of dark energy erupt from behind me. Aaron's rage was boiling for bloodshed. He wanted to kill. I should have known he couldn't resist his lust to cut the flesh of a Reborn. It was an innate trait we shared as part of the Covenant.
"Are you coming?" Alope called back to Aaron.
"You know what? I am going to finish what we came here to do," Aaron yelled angrily, and he darted as fast as he could down the road in hopes of catching the red truck. He disappeared from our sight as Alope grabbed my arm and tugged on my jacket to stop him.
We both chased Aaron down the dark road, but by the time we caught up with him, it was too late. The truck was flipped over in the middle of the street with its headlights flashing on and off. He had blown the truck over using the element of wind, one of the five elements of the Covenant.
He forced the pastor onto the pavement while pressing into his bruised chest with his foot. I watched my cousin press his foot deeper and stare in a ghastly manner into the man's eyes, like a lion about to eat a gazelle.
As I charged after Aaron at full speed, I could hear the man cry out, "God, help me!"
Aaron replied, "Where is your god now? He can't help you when you're marked for death."
"Nodin Lakota, stop it!" I yelled out to him. Nodin was his Naiche Native name.
I tackled my cousin to the ground. He quickly stood up and appeared like a mist in my face with his iris colored a dark red, his face wrinkled. He had used 30 percent of his darker powers. The demon was about to emerge. "Back away and let me finish the job for you, if you don't have the guts to kill this man," he argued.
Aaron then quickly blew me back with the element of wind. I resisted as I pushed through the violent tornado of skin-cutting air. I lit my lighter, a Zippo, and blasted a wall of fire in his direction. Aaron vanished as the element of fire collided with the truck; however, the small boy was still trapped inside. The red truck instantly exploded into hundreds of pieces. The flames had gotten into the gas line of the vehicle and ignited. The blistering heat swarmed around us. I witnessed the small boy burn to death before my eyes. I saw his little pale face before the flame completely consumed him. He looked out of the broken driver side window, his face glued to mine. The man immediately ran toward the burning truck in tears and cried beyond measure. I was horrified. I had killed the boy!
"Nooo! My baby boy! Tristan!" he screamed out. I felt the heat from the fire on the side of my face.
Aaron immediately ran off into the dark woods with a satisfied smile, disappearing in an instant.
"Bodaway, what have you done?" Alope asked as she sped into the night, quickly vanishing as well.
I stood there for a moment while the man stared me down in hate. His eyes narrowed and tears streamed down his face. I locked eyes with him and uttered, "I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry."
He didn't reply but kept staring while he rested near the burning truck. The body of the boy was buried beneath the burning metal. Another car sped toward the scene. I needed to vanish.
Then I took two steps back and dashed away from the accident, leaving the man in misery with his son dead in the middle of the night in Woodland, South Dakota. Aaron, Alope, and I went our separate directions.
As I ran to the other side of Woodland, tears began to run down my cold face. The shame of what I had just done began to settle in my heart. How could I have murdered a child? Killing adults was one thing, but children were another level of madness. I felt like I was the worst among all men, the lowest of scum, and the darkness of my people.
"No, no, what I have done? I didn't mean to kill the boy. It's all my fault," I uttered to myself, feeling the regret.
Moments later, I sat underneath a tree and collected my thoughts. With my head rested against the bark of the tree, I heard the sound of a train. The blowing of the horn and the rumbling of the engine echoed within the dark woods. That was it. The train was my ticket back to Red Valley. I stood. I needed to get away from here.
I saw the smoke of the train through the leaves ahead of me. It was moving west. I jetted through the woods, dashing in between trees using my dark energy, the energy from the dark spirits, to guide me through the woods. Then when the train came into the clearing it had already passed me by. I darted after it and leapt upon the rear ladder with my fist gripping the rusty iron. I pulled myself onto the top of the last freight and crawled into its compartment. Luckily the handle door wasn't locked, but it was shut.
There I rested to nothing but the sound of the train and my thoughts of the dead boy. I sat down and leaned against a pile of boxes. A pile of hay lay around the wooden crates as I placed my head back and passed out for the night. I don't remember much after that, just the small boy.
I opened my eyes to the morning light piercing through the unclosed door. I got up and moved around to peek out of the door and saw nothing but the openness of the desert. I must have been somewhere in the state of Utah. The sandy hills and mountains surrounded me as I looked for a safe spot to leap out and head back to Red Valley, which was to the south, in Arizona.
I leapt from the freight and landed next to a brush of cactus. I shook the dirt off of myself and out of my hair. I looked around and watched the train disappear around the mountainside as smoke puffed from the engine. Tiny bits of dirt continued to fall from my scalp. I brushed off what I could and began to walk south.
There, in the distance, I felt it—the presence of my people, their dark aura emanating behind those mountains ahead. I figured I would meet up with Aaron and Alope back home. Whenever I next saw Aaron, I was going to punch him in the face. He deserved much more, but he was family. If I could, or if I at least had the tenacity, I would kill him. Our oral laws forbid us to use our gifts or abilities against each other. They were only allowed to kill our ancient enemies, the followers of the Reborn religion. Our god, Lucian, willed the Covenant to my ancestors and they to their descendants, us. I was simply carrying on the tradition of my people.
Without much thought, I dashed south, running at supernatural speeds across the desert fields and hills, kicking up dust from underneath my feet. I didn't think anyone saw me, but we were forbidden to use our paranormal abilities in public unless we were killing a Reborn. An aura of red light surrounded me as I sped back toward Red Valley in a hurry. The run took me just over a day as I peeked into the mountains of Arizona. I could have gotten their sooner but decided to take my time as I stopped to walk and ponder in various places.
Why did the death of this certain small boy bother me? I decided it was because he was just a child. I brushed off the feelings of guilt and prepared to face my father and explain to him why I had failed to execute the last hunt.
The evening came and the sun died over the horizon. I was a bit tired. I didn't want to see anyone or tell another soul about our failure in Woodland. So I entered the community with my head down, hands in my dirty pockets, not making eye contact with anyone as I watched my feet.
Luckily, not much was going on around me as I listened. Other warriors were chatting amongst themselves. Children played wondrously with a ball and a stick—as, I thought, I had done at one time.
Then someone called out, "Bodaway!" I turned to my left and saw James, another of my cousins, running toward me with his long black hair flowing back and forth. He looked worried.
"Hey, James," I said lowly.
"Is it true? You killed a small boy last night in Woodland, South Dakota?" he asked coldly. Damn it! How did he know already?
I nodded and continued to walk, wanting to pretend it had never happened. It seemed that everyone knew of my return and the story behind it. Families now stood outside of their small metal houses and watched as their future chief, me, didn't want to be seen walking the streets of Red Valley.
"Oh ... sorry to hear that, Alope said it was an accident. I mean, I know you wouldn't willingly murder a child. Lyonell would have, but not you," he said. Lyonell was my older brother and the leader of the Wolf clan.
"Yeah ... I—I don't want to talk about it," I uttered.
He nodded. "Oh! By the way, your father wants to see you immediately. It's urgent," he said. His tone was more serious than I had expected.
Excerpted from Covenant by T. E. Joshua. Copyright © 2014 T. E. Joshua. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. The Promised Child, 1,
2. The Awakened Reborn Girl, 18,
3. The House of Eis Lakota, 34,
4. The Name of Tristan, 46,
5. The Castleton Park Mall Encounter, 58,
6. The Blackfalls Woods, 72,
7. The Decision to Befriend, 82,
8. The Common Bond, 95,
9. Leroy's Place, 112,
10. Demon Energy, 127,
11. The Division of Two Worlds, 142,
12. The Darkness Falls for the Light, 149,
13. The Explanation of the Five Elements, 167,
14. Arrival of the Nomads, 180,
15. The Wolf Clan, 192,
16. Lyonell Lakota, 205,
17. The Blackfalls Massacre, 218,
18. The Burning of Flesh, 239,
19. Covenant of the Reborn, 250,