Leaving the Shadows

Brooklyn Ann

Brides of Prophecy, Book 8

Lead guitarist and apprentice mage Sylvis Jagwolfe has always been the quiet member of Rage of Angels. Though she enjoys spending time with her bandmates, she treasures moments of solitude when it’s just her, a guitar, and the wolf that’s been glued to her side lately.

However, when battles against the Evil One’s horde accelerate, and her wolf turns out not to be a wolf, Sylvis discovers that she can’t remain in her shell any longer. She must emerge from the shadows, embrace her growing powers, and confront her awakening heart, or risk her side losing a critical alliance in the wars to come.


Chapter Two


“I can’t believe you’re still doing this.” Lucian said as he and the wolf went into the nightmare forest, where no creature who was capable of fear could pass through.

Once they were out of view from the tower, Gabriel Leonine transformed back into his luminite form. Without the wolf’s thick fur, the chill of mid-autumn made him shiver. Quickly, he released his wings and used them to blanket his nude body. He could materialize clothing, but didn’t wish to bother for this short conversation. “I wasn’t going to let you take a vacation from our tedious families in boring Luminista without me.”

“I’d gathered that. But you could have accompanied me here without disguising yourself as a wolf and following my newly discovered cousin everywhere.” Lucian’s dark gold brows drew together in disapproval as he kicked away a grasping tree limb. “She’s not going to be happy when she discovers your subterfuge.”


“I don’t follow her everywhere,” Gabriel argued. “You’re behaving as if I invade her bed and watch her when she bathes.”

“You don’t?” Lucian’s eyes narrowed in doubt.

“No. That would be too far.” Though he had to admit to himself that he was painfully tempted to accept her invitation when she patted a spot on the bed beside her.

“While it’s a relief that you do have some scruples, you’re still being dishonest with her, and more importantly, the King and Queen. If they find out…” He paused. “Wait, how did the cats not know that you aren’t really a wolf?”

“I had a conversation with the Queen’s companion, Isis, right when I arrived. She promised to keep my secret as long as I didn’t hurt any of her people, which from what I’ve gathered, is everyone who enters the tower except for you.” The corner of Gabriel’s mouth lifted in a mocking half-smile, rubbing in the fact that Lucian was disliked by most of the tower’s residents. “But enough about me. Did you get around to asking your newfound cousin if she is willing to be tested on how much luminite blood flows through her veins?”

“I have not. She seems to dislike me for my part in destroying my relationship with Kerainne.” Naked pain flashed in Lucian’s cerulean eyes before he composed himself. “That said, I agree with your suspicions that she has more of our ancestry than her friends, except for your cousin, the Queen.”

Gabriel nodded. “Did you observe that Sylvis was able to sit so close to the forest without being affected? That makes me wonder if she is has somewhere between a quarter or a third luminite blood.”

“I did notice that. I hope one of us may accompany her on her next visit to Earth and possibly meet her parents.”

“I’d thought of that. I would have the greatest chance since you’re so disliked.” He stepped on a slithering vine until it retreated.

“You’re also a wolf. From what I know about Earth, those aren’t welcome in their villages.”

“That’s true.” A quandary Gabriel had been wrestling with as soon as he heard Sylvis and her bandmates discussing Earth. “But I’ll allow her to put me on a leash and then I can project the idea that I’m nothing but a harmless dog to human eyes.”

“Or you could reveal your true form.” Lucian’s disapproving frown deepened as he swatted a fist-sized spider away. “The cat may not understand that your promise not to hurt Sylvis can’t be fulfilled. I’ve seen how happy she is with the wolf. She loves having her new pet. Discovering that you’re not a wolf at all, but instead a luminite who’s been using subterfuge to follow her around and invade her personal space will hurt her.”

“Maybe I should just stay a wolf for her,” Gabriel muttered under his breath.


“What?” Gabriel echoed, blinking in feigned innocence.

Lucian sighed, running a hand through his hair. “You’re in love with her.”

Gabriel shrugged. “I’m fascinated. The magic she wields on that guitar… the emotions a piece of wood and steel brings forth at the touch of fingers have me captivated. And the life she’s lived… I may be nearly three centuries old, yet somehow in a quarter century, she’s experienced more than I.”

“You’ve been watching her before you followed me down to Aisthanesthai in your wolf form.”

At Lucian’s accusing tone, Gabriel tried not to sound defensive. “I’ve been watching Rage of Angels through the observatory spheres ever since they became famous on Earth. You know how I love the tantalizing varieties of music that world has to offer. Music is one of the bits of magic they have left.”

“That means you’ve been watching the band before we in Luminista were aware that the singer is Kerainne’s daughter. Before the Prophecy declared that her voice would bring the sun back to Aisthanesthai, crown a king, and lead an army of blood drinkers to battle their own creator.”

“Yes.” When put that way, Gabriel’s silence sounded so much worse. But he had good reasons.

“Why didn’t you say anything to us about a singer with the last name of Leonine and a guitarist with the last name of Jagwolfe?” Lucian’s tone gentled, as if maybe he would be willing to forgive Gabriel’s secrecy. “That information would have been greatly appreciated by the council, not to mention both the Leonine and Jagwolfe matriarchs.”

“Because I saw how my cousin Kerainne was treated after the last time she died on Earth and was imprisoned by our grandmother.” An edge of anger tinged his voice and he refused to attempt to hide it. “And I heard the ugly words she said about Xochitl. If the Leonine matriarch was so disgusted with a halfling, how do you think your matriarch would speak of Sylvis?”

Lucian’s shoulders slumped in defeat before he rallied again. “You could have said something when the Prophecy regarding Xochitl saving Aisthanesthai and becoming queen was transcribed.”

“I did say something.” Gabriel hated defensiveness creeping into his tone. “To Kerainne. She deserved to know how her daughter was doing and what the fates had in store for her. No one else did.”

“Including you.”

“I told you that I was first observing Rage of Angels for enjoyment of their music. Their family names did not dawn on me until halfway through my first year keeping track of their band’s tours.” He waved away a ghost that appeared between them. “When their significance to our families struck me, I immediately went to Kerainne. After that, I observed on her instruction.”

“And not at all for your own… edification.” Lucian gave him a mocking smirk.

“All right. You don’t have to needle me any further. I am well aware of how challenging it will be to confess all this to Sylvis.” Gabriel shook his head. “I see why you’ve failed to make inroads with Queen Kerainne.”

Lucian made a gesture as if to ward him off. “Oh no. Don’t shift this back on me.”

“You’re right.” Gabriel caught his friend’s gaze and held it. “You do it all by yourself.”

With that, he transformed back into his wolf guise. More and more these years, the form felt truer than a guise. Before Mephistopheles destroyed the luminite kingdom of Medicia, it was fairly easy to leave Luminista and visit either Earth or Aisthanesthai. Gabriel had learned to shapeshift shortly before his two-hundredth birthday and often spent months running with various wolf packs. Wolves were so much more sensible than luminites, humans, and other bipedal beings. Life was simpler in the forests and mountain dens, the smallest things easier to appreciate. If not for Gabriel’s love of music, food, and human entertainment, he’d be tempted to stay a wolf forever.

And then, five years ago, when checking in on Earth’s latest developments in music, his life, his very essence, had been awestruck at seeing and hearing Rage of Angels perform for the first time. At first, the group as a whole had captured his soul and imagination, invoking passion and inspiration into his somewhat dull and colorless existence. When using his scrying sphere in one of the observatories, he originally summoned views of the band by name. But during one concert at the gorge, Gabriel’s attention pinpointed to the lead guitarist.

The blue-haired woman handled the instrument like a goddess, her fingers dancing up and down the fretboard in a blur that shouldn’t have been possible for a human. Her eyes were usually closed in sublime concentration, wringing sounds from the guitar like it was an extension of her mind and body.

Her style fascinated him because although her guitar playing often held that savage element of thrash metal and virtuoso wails of power metal, she had a fascinating undertone of classical at some times, and for others, the spiciness of Spanish guitar, and sometimes even a bit of blues worked in her solos.

Gabriel resolved to pay closer attention to the next concert, so he could learn her name when the singer took time to shout it out to the audience.

When he heard “Sylvis Jagwolfe” cried out by the singer when she pointed to the blue-haired guitar goddess, Gabriel’s breath hitched in shock before he scolded himself for being surprised. Of course such a magical talent would have luminite blood. Because of luminites’ sparse fertility cycles, along with the sexual repulsion effect they often had with other beings, Earth humans with luminite ancestry were rare. But some matings—or, unfortunately rapes—did bear fruit. Especially if the other partner was a faelin or a high sorcerer. Tens of thousands of years ago, when magic still thrived on Earth, luminite clans lived on Earth, including a branch of the Jagwolfe family. By now, most known members of the Jagwolfe clan had returned to the home realm of Luminista, though some had been imprisoned when Mephistopheles stole Atlantis and other powerful magic Earth kingdoms. But some halfling descendants remained on Earth and bore offspring of their own, along with children of other luminite clans. Then, after all the magic was stolen from Earth, their descendants generally took to creative endeavors, becoming bards, poets, painters, sculptors, or musicians.

Therefore, Sylvis Jagwolfe wasn’t even the first virtuoso to share some of their ancestry. Jimi Hendrix had a few drops, Stevie Ray Vaughan, singer Ronnie James Dio, and drummer Cozy Powell as well. Sadly, none had enough to transcend to Luminista when they’d died. Carlos Santana appeared to have a little more, so time would tell. But this Sylvis carried the name of one of the premiere families, Jagwolfe, indicating that she possessed more than a drop of luminite blood.

If the ancient heads of the premiere families in luminista hadn’t dismissed Gabriel’s idea of tracing the descendants of the ancient Earth luminites, who’d suffered such tragic ends that some entombed themselves in mountain caves to sleep for thousands of years and counting, they would know how many of their distant mixed kin dwelled on the now nearly magic-barren world of Earth. Then they could help those people tap into their luminite roots and draw out their magic, which would not only improve their lifespans and happiness, but also possibly bring back some of the magic that Mephistopheles had stolen from that world.

And when Gabriel discovered that the lead singer’s name was Xochitl Leonine, he grew dizzy with shock. Not only was the singer direct kin to him, Xochitl was also the result of Mephistopheles’s brutal rape of Gabriel’s cousin, Kerainne Leonine, and the reason for Kerainne’s imprisonment. He paid closer attention to the drummer and bass player, and even though he’d have to go to Earth to verify it, he would have wagered his wings that Aurora Lee and Beau Thompson were also of luminite descent. He’d risen from his chair and ran out of the observatory to ask the high council to call a meeting where he could announce his revelatory discovery.

A realization stopped him. His cousin’s daughter was among this group. But Kerainne wasn’t permitted to be near any observatory. Gabriel had turned away from the path to the high counsel’s rotunda and instead strode to the Leonine’s palace, where his cousin was imprisoned. He would tell her about her child’s successes, ask her what she knew of the other bandmembers, then work on helping her gain access to a scrying sphere and perhaps formulate a way for her to escape.

He ended up doing both.

Unfortunately, their grandmother, Silvara Leonine, found out who’d been responsible for Kerainne’s release, and Gabriel had then been forbidden from leaving Luminista for an indeterminate time. At least he hadn’t been imprisoned and had been able to watch in proud surprise as Rage of Angels toured, recruiting vampires to fight their creator on the side while also bringing forth the unintentional phenomena of bringing magic back to Earth.

Gabriel didn’t know what the long-term ramifications were for the long barren world to once more have magic, but surely they had to be good. Mephistopheles had stolen entire cities and now turned his greedy eyes toward Aisthanesthai, first with the taking of the luminite kingdom of Medicia. Hundreds of luminites, including Natalya and Kiernan Leonine had vanished after the attack, likely imprisoned in Qua’ al-fán, the world the Evil One built from stealing pieces from others.

Yet the rulers of Luminista seemed to remain unconcerned, confident that Mephistopheles could never reach their world. Gabriel was more concerned about what was right and what was wrong. In his view, the luminites’ indifference and inaction about the countless deaths and destruction endured by the other worlds, the lack of concern at Mephistopheles’s growing power, and most of all, his rape of their kin, was not to be borne.

Whenever he raised his voice about his view that the luminites should step in and help with the war, he was given the most patronizing set-downs. At only three centuries old, Gabriel was still too naïve as to how things worked. Surely, he needed to be reminded that luminites’ ability to only create and not to destroy would make them a hindrance, not a help in battle. Ergo, they may as well stay out of things.

Gabriel always stormed out of those council meetings, fists clenched at his sides, furious at how beings so ancient, powerful, and wise could be so willfully obtuse when it came to caring about others. His kind had so much to offer. They could heal people wounded in battle, they could create trenches, swords, and shields. And, now that he’d seen his cousins, Nikkita, and Xochitl fight, he saw that there were ways to bend the rules. For living enemies, they could still maim them so it would be easier for the human, faelin, and vampire allies to deliver killing blows. The hordes of walking dead raised by the Evil One’s necromancers, luminites could destroy without consequence, for one cannot kill what is already dead. They could raise morale with their poetry, songs, and other creative arts. They could help open portals to aid in efficient retreats.

Instead, the matriarchs and patriarchs of Luminista dismissed Gabriel’s point of view on the basis of his paltry three centuries of existence, and imperiously sat in their palaces of marble, believing themselves to be above the concerns of all other worlds and beings.

Luminites hadn’t always been this way, though. Gabriel had read about their many old missions where they lived amongst people on Earth, helping them develop their magic and nurture their creativity. Then, after Mephistopheles’s attacks became frequent, they helped the human mages and other magical beings migrate from Earth to the safety of Aisthanesthai. They’d been worshipped as gods in goddesses back in those times. Is that where the current views of superiority were rooted?

At least there had been little defections that could lead to a turning tide. Nikkita had been fighting the Evil One’s forces for centuries. Kerainne had taken her place on Aisthanesthai’s Conclave, on the basis of being heiress to Medicia.

When Lucian was ordered to go down to Aisthanesthai and fulfill the betrothal the Jagwolfe and Leonine matriarchs had arranged between him and Nikkita Leonine, a union Lucian was determined to wrangle out of, since Kerainne had been his original intended, Gabriel got his chance to not only escape Luminista, but also to join the forces standing against Mephistopheles’s evil. …And to at last meet the captivating Sylvis Jagwolfe in person.

His belief that luminites could be valuable in the war proved to be true a little over a month ago. Kerainne’s healing powers saved the lives of countless wounded, Lucian joined the battle as well, providing critical backup to block blows to other warriors. Gabriel even got into the fray in his wolf form.

And now a new segment of the Prophecy had surfaced, declaring that the final battle could not be won without a luminite alliance. When the rulers of Luminista would inevitably come down to Aisthanesthai to attempt to make Lucian and Gabriel return, perhaps they could convince more luminites to change their stances of neutrality and form the crucial alliance.

Gabriel shook his head, feeling the wind riffle through his fur. He could worry about that later. Right now, his first priority was taking his place by Sylvis’s side and figure out when to reveal the truth to her of what he was.

Lucian’s words about him already hurting her with this deception hung heavy in his heart. But when he joined Sylvis at the dining room table, and felt her affectionate hand stroking the top of his head and scratching behind his ears as she fed him choice pieces of her meal, the idea of appearing to her in his luminite form became more daunting.

The sun set after supper and Gabriel’s sensitive ears detected the sound of the vampires in the tower rising for the night. Due to them being descended from Mephistopheles’s creations, Gabriel hadn’t quite gotten comfortable around them yet, even with Lucian befriending one. The vampires were uncomfortable with a large wolf in the tower, so at least they were even.

Or maybe not. As Gabriel watched Tony Salazar embrace Rage of Angels’s drummer and manager, Aurora Lee, then Radu Nicolae lifting the human scientist, Lillian high in the air while Delgarias and Nikkita shared heated looks, he couldn’t help feeling a twinge of envy. Sure, Sylvis hugged him, but it wasn’t with the non-platonic affection he witnessed here, and his enjoyment at her embraces was dampened by a growing amount of guilt at his deception. Would she embrace him again after learning the truth about what he was?

Tony cleared his throat. “One of our spies in the Order of Eternal Night is supposed to report to Silas McNaught in Coeur d’Alene tonight. Did any of you want to pay a visit to Earth to hear what he has to say?”

Zareth spoke first. “I suppose we should.”

To Gabriel’s surprise, Sylvis balked at the suggestion. “We have so much to do here. There’s the songs we have to write and our mage training to keep up with.”

Everyone stared at her. Normally Sylvis remained quiet about both war meetings and band activities. It wasn’t that she was passive, though some clearly assumed she was, but rather that she was content to go anywhere so long as she had either her guitar, her best friend at her side, or both. She also hid a will of steel and a heart of gold when it came to helping those she cared about.

“We can do a session in Silas and Akasha’s basement like old times.” Aurora gave Sylvis a knowing smirk. “Look I got anxiety too about talking to our folks about the coming holidays, and I also know you’re worried about what to do with Wolf on our visits to Earth. I have no idea what we’ll do in the long term, but tonight, either leave him here, or take him with you. Your new pet has proven himself to behave, and Silas and Akasha have seen stranger things from us. I mean, Xochitl has a possessed car.”

A what? Gabriel’s ears pricked up. Now this was something he didn’t know. He’d watched Xochitl talk to the blue Datsun and pet it, but plenty of Earthfolk did that with their motor vehicles, truly treating them as substitutes for horses.

Sylvis gave Aurora a slow nod. “Okay. I’ll bring Wolf and we can jam after hearing from the spy.”

Delgarias gave Gabriel an intent stare, as if he knew that he wasn’t really a wolf. “There are some other important things that need to be discussed where Earth is concerned, so we should depart quickly.”

Zareth arched a brow. “What else about Earth now?”

“I need to contact the Lord Vampire of New Orleans to check on the witch coven we found there.”

“By the fates, I’d almost forgotten.”

Sylvis rose from her seat and absently ran her hands up and down Gabriel’s back, a clear indicator of nervousness. He leaned against her leg, offering what comfort he could as she spoke. “I’ve never felt good about that situation.”

Zareth stared at her in surprised confusion. “You don’t think it’s good that magic is returning to Earth?”

“No. I mean, I don’t think it’s right that you and the vampires ordered the coven to be under surveillance against their knowledge.” Sylvis’s fingers traced intricate patterns in Gabriel’s fur, motions that would bring him great pleasure if not for her words that were bringing him great shame. “I know I’d be furious and… hurt at having my privacy violated.”

Shit. Gabriel dropped to the floor and let his head sink onto his front paws, depriving himself of the affection he didn’t deserve. He’d been the worst kind of idiot to think he could get close to the guitar goddess this way.

When she learned the truth about what he’d done, she wouldn’t merely be hurt.

She would hate him.

Brooklyn Ann

Comments are closed.