BY: S. P. BROWN

The unthinkable has happened. The enemy has recovered the lost Stones of Sumer, and have managed to neutralize the Prophecy of Tarkus. And now the only person capable of deciphering the runes written on the ten stones has been captured. Madeline Alleyn will risk everything to keep the meaning of the rune stones away from her captor, but how can she when these people can open minds as easily as turning a page. She must keep their enigmatic message from her enemies. Her only hope lies in her daughters. Can they rescue their mother in time to prevent Prometheus Erazmos from gaining this knowledge. Stonehenge is the key, but what terrible secrets does this ancient monument hold?



TAYLOR JONES SAYS:

REGAN MURPHY SAYS:

PROLOGUE

Three girls and a man crashed to the ground in a tangle of limbs. Phoebe groaned, rolled away from the thing poking her in the back, and reached up to the knot forming on her throbbing head. The pain was a good thing: it meant she was alive. But alive where? Had Rhea’s black hole deposited them near their home in upstate New York? Not likely. She glanced around the gloom—woods, a forest maybe. Even some strange, savage land would be okay as long as that crazy man they’d barely escaped from hadn’t tracked them here.

Phoebe reached out into the dark with her mind. Could these be the woods they had often visited growing up? The National Forest near Seneca Lake was big enough to get lost in for days. And then there was that story of the wild man living there. An urban legend maybe. Phoebe wasn’t sure. Weird that Rhea would bring them here. She reached out with her mind again. No one.

Nothing seemed broken, so she got to her knees and saw Dione lying flat on her back a few feet away. She looked paler than usual, like death. Steven Dryer lay sprawled to the left. She studied his still form, regret bubbling up in her. He’d discovered the triplets by accident. He hadn’t known of their power, but had gotten a good taste of it since meeting them. Too bad for him. They’d captured him and with their abilities forced him to help. It was a debt he owed anyway after stealing from their mother. There was no way he could escape them, but he’d slowly come to understand his purpose in all this. He was meant to help their family, and because Phoebe had gazed into his mind, she knew him, all his predilections, every nuance of him. She knew he would keep helping even without her control. And because of this knowledge it wasn’t much of a gamble to trust him. He’d come through big time and been brave in the face of that bastard’s attacks at the museum.

Only Rhea seemed to have managed a smooth landing. Phoebe reached out with her mind, feeling for Rhea’s aches and pains. She knew then that her knees had taken a beating. She’d been thrown to the ground with enough force to break them, but Rhea seemed ok otherwise. The four of them were still alive, and that was the only thing that mattered. Not their tattered nightclothes or soiled appearance.

Phoebe managed to stand on shaky legs and tried to get some sense of the direction they’d taken, of the length of time they’d been borne aloft. It was useless. She doubted even Rhea would know. The disturbance that had been their grandmother’s quantum trace and the explosion that had destroyed the museum had eliminated such sensory perception.

She managed to shuffle to where Rhea was bent over Dione, crying. Di was unresponsive, the result of the attack earlier that very night. Phoebe went to Dryer next and tried to stir him with a mental probe, but gave up soon after. Her skills were still new. She wouldn’t risk damaging him.

Then the full realization of their predicament descended on her as she noticed more of their surrounds, the noises of the forest spooking her at every turn. Her breath caught in her chest. Though dark, these woods seemed familiar. That sycamore with the Z-shaped scar shining in the moonlight off to her right. The familiar sound of a nearby stream. Somehow Rhea had managed to bring them home. It was their woods.

With the tree as a landmark, Phoebe turned in the direction her house should be and let her mind drift out. People were there, and then they weren’t. She shook her head, trying harder to clear thoughts that seemed glued together like they were stuck in mud.

Her mother should be there, but try as she might she could not sense her.

Then her heart froze and she knew the throbbing in her head was caused by more than the spill they had all taken. She had been sensing the opening and closing of those weird black objects, the same thing Rhea had used, just managing to save their butts before the explosion at the museum.

Their enemies were here. They’d been followed. Her mother should be home, but wasn’t. They’d obviously taken her, but where? Before she could chase those thoughts very far, Phoebe glanced aside at Rhea who returned a frightened look. Dione moaned and Rhea turned back to her.

“We failed, Phoebe,” Rhea said, sobbing over Di. She shook her sister’s shoulder. “We failed our grandmother. We didn’t get the stones of Sumer, and now those men have them. We can’t do what she told us.”

Phoebe acknowledged all this with a stiff nod no one saw. What Rhea said was true, but it was no longer important. The stones would have to wait. Their mother was gone. These people had her. Her family’s mortal enemies. She’d have to tell her sisters this soon enough. It was the only thing that mattered anymore. They had to get her back.

Phoebe shivered in the cold March air, her bed clothes failing to keep out the night chill. Suddenly, an owl called somewhere out in the darkness. There was a rush of wings. Phoebe looked up into the canopy—dancing shadows everywhere, swaying branches, but not a hint of wind. The bird hooted again and this time Phoebe saw him glide onto a nearby limb. It looked at her and hooted a third time. She turned away and pulled the thin fabric tighter around her, terrified and wanting to move from this spot.

An irrational hate suddenly permeated this place. It seemed to be coming from…

They were in a tiny clearing, encircled by trees. Phoebe looked past them into the gloomy shadows. Something was there, a watchful presence that wasn’t physical. It exuded anger. Phoebe thought of the haunting laughter that had come to her days ago. Again she let her mind expand out. Without warning, the trees began swaying as if in a furious enchantment.

Phoebe backed up to where Rhea was, trying to warm Dione as best she could. She reached out to Di’s mind. No use. It still seemed like a blank, dead thing. It didn’t worry her just yet. Di’s talents weren’t like her sisters. That trance-like state she would fall into, the energy bands she would throw off were beyond strange.

The night sky dazzled over them, sparkling with a million stars, the three-quarter moon much too close, filling the sky like a giant ephemeral scythe, cutting the stars loose from their mooring.

Phoebe sagged, hands on her knees, the weight of all that had occurred crushing her. She was cold and wet, but she had Rhea. Di would be of little use this time, the two of them would have to manage alone.

She turned her mind to the house again, but it was no use.

Oh, where is she?

What she felt for her mother was like a deep empty place in her heart. Their enemies would be able to look into her mother’s mind, and not gently as Phoebe had once done. She wanted to shout and curse at the outrage, but she kept a cool head, kept her thoughts to herself. Full of sorrow for her dead grandmother and the stones they had failed to retrieve. Full of hatred for her grandmother’s murderer and their attacker. Her fists clenched. Her eyes watered. Those people had her mother.

Rhea could move them from here easily enough, but that wouldn’t do with their mother missing. Her head throbbed again and she finally reacted to it by reaching out with her mind. Someone had suddenly appeared in her backyard. Some kind of sentry, probably sent to wait for their return.

Phoebe’s fists clenched tighter and the man crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

It startled her, the power she now had to affect people with just a thought. It was something that could take her over, remake her into something she wouldn’t recognize or want to become. It felt so good. The power. This idiot deserved it. All these people did. They would all get the same when she found their mother. She’d make damn sure of that.

She realized the sentry hadn’t been followed by others, so she looked into his mind. Just a low-level soldier. He didn’t even know about her mother. Phoebe searched further—through the house, down the street. Nothing nefarious. Nothing at all. Should they enter the shed at the back of her yard, operate from there for a little while. She shook her head. She couldn’t chance staying on the property, not with these jerks coming and going. They didn’t have much time. It was either the shed or…she didn’t know just yet. Maybe Dryer would know.

Phoebe had been pacing around Di and Rhea without realizing it when she suddenly stopped. They needed a plan to get their mother back. These thoughts dominated now more than any other. Get even with the dumb pricks who had done this to their little family, then get the hell out of Ithaca and start over somewhere else. She hated to do it, but the house and property were just too dangerous right now. They’d have to find someplace close from which to work. She told Rhea this without using her voice. Rhea nodded and soon they had collected Di and Steven Dryer and were gone with Rhea’s black hole flashing those aqua green sparks. The same color as Rhea’s bright eyes.

©2020 by S. P. Brown