When I started this book a few months ago, I posted the Prologue, so here’s the story’s Epilogue. Don’t worry, it’s written in a way that doesn’t give away any spoilers (unedited, of course).
“And that, children, is the story of Aeric Traxx, your great-great grandfather. Because of him, we are who we are. Our family has thrived for more than one hundred and fifty years while others have faltered and died out. He laid the foundations that we have built our empire upon.”
Varan glanced around at the ramshackle family homestead with its fourteen houses built around a central meeting area. Beyond the houses were the family crops and further still, the walls that the Traxx family maintained to keep away the Vultures and creatures that roamed the darkness. It didn’t resemble much of an empire to him.
“Grandad, why did we leave San Angelo?” Varan asked. “If Aeric journeyed all that way to get to the city, why don’t we still live there?”
The boy was much smarter than his older brother the old man thought. Caleb would have been content to smash demonwolves with a hammer all day long instead of applying critical thought to wonder why they were attacking. “San Angelo fell to the Vultures when Aeric was an old man. My father fought to save the city, but there were too many of them. They weren’t nearly as wild as they are today, but there were still enough of them to destroy the city. Not for plunder or for food, simply for revenge.”
Caleb’s eyes lit up at the word. “Was it Campbell?” he asked.
The old man yawned and stretched his arms skyward to loosen his aching shoulders. He shouldn’t have sat as long as he had that night. Aeric’s story could have been told over the course of two nights, but he’d delighted to see the looks on the children’s faces as he described the events of the past that had been passed on to him by his own father and grandfather, Traxx himself.
“The story of the Vulture’s revenge is best left for another night, young ones. It is late now and you must go to sleep or else you’ll be worthless at sword practice in the morning.”
The grumbling of the children brought a smile to his weathered face. Now he was certain that he’d done a good job telling the story. The children rarely seemed enthusiastic for anything that didn’t involve learning new ways to kill and he was delighted that he’d been able to relieve their burdens for even the one night.
Little Tanya placed her hand on his knee and asked, “Grandad, did Aeric marry Katie or was it Veronica?”
“Ah, child, you are so observant. I didn’t ever tell you who he decided to be with, did I? Aeric married—” he stopped himself from giving away the answer. He’d enjoyed himself thoroughly this night and wanted the feelings to be repeated.
“You know, my little Traxx warriors, the story of your great-great grandmother will have to wait for another night as well. But know this; Aeric Traxx loved her until his dying day.
“Now, off to bed, young ones. Your fathers will beat me and throw me to the demonwolves if you sleep late tomorrow morning. Go!” he shooed them away with both hands, only giving up the fight when Tanya wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I love you, Grandad,” she whispered in his ear.
“And I love you, baby girl. Run along, I’m getting tired myself and will probably fall asleep in this chair before too long. Your grandmother would strangle me if I don’t come to bed, though, so I don’t want to get in trouble either,” he said with a wink.
The small child patted his knee affectionately and then ran to her house. Once she was safely inside, the old man picked up his sword and walked stiffly to the house that he shared with his wife and their youngest son’s family.
Behind him, the fire continued to crackle, sending large flakes of grey ash skyward to mingle with the remains of the old world suspended in the heavens above.