Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Sower Comes, The Wasteland:
“Why did Malden want to take me?” Marisol asked.
Lucia smiled—it was a cruel smile. “You are marked. You are his.”
Marisol’s mouth dropped open in shock. She thought about it, the little things Malden had said to her about being his to torment. She shuddered, recalling images from childhood nightmares—she had convinced herself the monster living under her bed was a figment of her imagination. She had been wrong about that. Her personal bogeyman was real. Still, just because Malden thought she was his didn’t make it true. She felt her fear of him fade, replaced by anger and revulsion. “What do you mean, I’m marked? I’m not marked. And I am not his.”
“Your grandmother. She was a bruja, was she not?” Lucia asked.
Marisol crossed her arms. “A witch? Maybe. How do you know about that?”
Lucia ignored the question. “Your grandmother had great power, but it came with a price. Who do you think gave her that power, and why do you think your mother ran away from home when she was still a girl?”
“My mother never ran away from home. She traveled the world—for her job,” Marisol insisted.
“Oh yes, she traveled,” Lucia said quietly, almost to herself. She returned her gaze to study Marisol’s face. “Your mother used to tell you stories—she tried, in her own way, to warn you. I knew your mother. She was haunted by the same mark you have.”
“What are you talking about?” Marisol demanded.
“I’m talking about children bearing the sins of their fathers—or mothers, in your case,” Lucia explained. “Malden has gone by many names. La Malogra is one of them. It means the monster that ruins, a creature that haunts crossroads, waiting for prey. He tricked your grandmother. She did not know the price of her deal with him would be her daughter—or her daughter’s daughter. Your mother moved frequently, did she not?”
“He followed her. She thought she would be protected in Newcastle Beach—that you would be protected. But he found her. She did not even know of the portal’s existence, but it called her. The same force that drew her there also drew him. That is why she left you. She thought if she was far enough away from you, he would seek her and you would be safe. But that’s not true, is it? Malden wanted both of you, and your mother’s efforts to protect you were fruitless. ”
“Yes,” Marisol said bitterly. “He found me. And Jon took my place. What is he planning on doing with Jon?”
Lucia smiled again—that cruel, haughty smile. If there was any good in this woman, Marisol couldn’t see it.
“I doubt it is Malden your friend needs to worry about. I have a feeling there are bigger plans in play than his.”
Lucia nodded. “For now, your friend may be safe from the likes of Malden, assuming Tierney sees some value in keeping him alive. He knows the boy is close to the Solas Beir, so perhaps that knowledge will work in his favor.”
“Tell me how to rescue Jon,” Marisol pleaded. “If we act quickly—”
Lucia laughed. “Go to the City of the Eastern Oracle, and you might as well kill your friend yourself. Malden will get his hands on you, and the sacrifice Jonathon Reyes made will be for naught. I told you—you are marked. That city is no place for a marked child.”
“What is this mark you keep talking about? I don’t have any mark on my body.” Marisol’s patience was wearing thin, and she hadn’t had much tolerance for this woman to begin with. Lucia was just like the monster Malden—nothing but riddles and games and a sick sense of humor.
Lucia narrowed her eyes. “It is not a physical mark, silly child. Do you really think it would be? Some kind of special birthmark designating you as the chosen one? Please. The creature has your scent—he can smell the essence of your very soul, and it doesn’t matter how far you run. He will find you. You are his and there is no escaping that fate. He will destroy you as he destroyed your mother.”
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2012