Zero-Dark: Origins

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After her world falls apart, a young girl must do anything to survive and escape the hell that surrounds her – including murder.

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Author:Jules L. Grant

The Zero-Dark Legend
Book 1

Part One – Spring

Sixteen years after the end of the Long War, Rey lives a peaceful childhood. Shattered by the sudden illness that overcomes a close family friend and seeking answers, Rey hunts through the contraband, ancient lexicons, feeling the pressure mount as the race to save Audri falls on her shoulders. Relying on adult help, she enlists her father, Thane, to help pay for the rare medicine needed to save Audri. Whilst in the apothecary, they meet Teller – a twisted individual who gives Rey the creeps. Despite Teller trying to blackmail Thane, Rey and her father get the elixir and race back to the estate. Assisted by her father, Rey works hard to try to save her surrogate mother, all the while witnessing just how abusive Elyas can be toward his daughter, Naeli. Her father’s secrets that turn her world upside down also spill out and Rey begins to question what she knows about those she loves.

Whilst able to save Audri, Naeli drowns, leaving a devastated Rey having to nurse than her father, also afflicted with the unknown disease. As he dies in her arms, he bequeaths two items: A Remnant and a tiny but beautiful disc. The Remnant somehow binds itself to her, but she is yet to learn its power or its use. On her way back from the funeral, Elyas catches up with Rey – delivering devastating news that Audri has died, but doesn’t believe Naeli is gone and wants Rey to find her. Despite not believing him, Rey and Elyas get drunk to soothe their grief, and it is after he has left that same night, Teller throws Rey out of her home. Seeking out the only place she knows, she races to Elyas, but his house is boarded up. Alone and scared, she travels to the nearby town of Seurri. Watching the festivities from her favourite rooftop, Rey observes the Envoy demonstrate their strength and execute ‘traitors’, of which Elyas has been branded. There are also some children included in their list, provoking a riot. Devastated that he was executed for concealing her forbidden books, Rey tries to find some peace by helping others escape. As she attempts to save a child from being killed, Rey is taken captive by one soldier. The confinement includes torture and abuse, and Rey loses the will to live, having lost everyone she knows and loves.

Part Two – Autumn

Rey watches, horrified as she sees Naeli being dragged across the courtyard! Her desire to survive kicks in, and she plans an escape. After killing her tormentor, they make a break for freedom together – but get separated along the way. Lost, Rey meets Octavious, who demonstrates a strange portal that feeds off the souls of children. Launching a daring escape, Rey can jump from a window that is shattered by the plasma arrow aimed at her and races toward the Tor for shelter. As she continues her journey, Rey encounters an Envoy initiation. Rey tries to save the hamlet from their impending doom, but her pleas go ignored. Terrified of being caught, she hides and watches as cadets Raven and Spud try to save their little sister. The newly initiated soldiers turn on the cadets, and Rey races toward them to help. Impressed by her bravery, Raven asks if she would like to join them in travelling to his homeland in the mountains, and just as she agrees, Spud is felled by an arrow. With no time to grieve, the three youngsters race cross-country to escape. Finding a place of relative safety, the three check their map, and Rey suggests that they can get weapons and supplies from her home. They trek the journey to discover all the supplies are in a secured underground bunker they cannot access due to the entire estate being razed to the ground. In frustration, Raven throws his sword away.

Exhausted, they camp for the night with the plan to return to continue their journey to the mountains the following day. Picking up Raven’s sword, Rey experiences a massive rush of electricity shoot through her body which passes into the blade. Raven explains that it isn’t his sword – he took it from an Envoy soldier. Using its heat, they are able to access the den and the supplies, including her father’s bow. The sword, Remnant and bow all have the same symbol on them and glow the same blue-green. Somehow, they link together, but Rey still doesn’t understand how. Elated from their hoard, their trek takes them through the ancient forest with enormous trees. During the evening camp, Raven shares his secret and the reason for having no kin-name: every fifty years or so, a child is born who can communicate with animals and creatures. They are revered by his tribe and have no need for a kin name as they belong to the forest and the land. Later that night, they realise they are being tracked. Raven suggests finding out from the tracker his plans, but Rey is worried he might get caught, so they leave. It starts to snow which leaves them feeling elated and able to continue. As they near the crossing to get to Blue Mountain Pass, they are stalked by a giant creature. Knowing she has no one left but that Raven has a family, she races toward it to give Raven and Ash a chance to survive. The beast mortally wounds her, but not before she can kill it. Raven carries her to a nearby cave which has the antidote to the venom. The cave is full of bioluminescent plants and animals, and the Remnant not only helps to heal her, but Rey can see things she would never be able to without it. Wanting Raven to be part of this, she holds his hand, and he can see it too.

As they near the crossing, another beast catches up to them, throwing Ash into a huge snowdrift. Raven tries to fight the beast but is also fling away. Using her sword, Rey also fails. Having only her bow, Rey attempts to kill the creature. The first shot misses its target, but the second hit the sweet spot and the beast is killed. In their relief and excitement, the three have a snow fight, bonding their relationship even further. The Blue Mountain Pass is a triangular tunnel that leads to Mons Solis – where Raven and Ash are from. The jet-black walls react to touch, and the three-run through the tunnel to their home.

Greeting them at the other end is Raven and Ash’s Ma, who shouts with pure joy at seeing them. Rey meets Zenia, the dire-wolf Enfield, who she sits with whilst Raven delivers the devastating news about Spud.

Although grief-stricken, his Ma welcomes Rey into her home. As she is about to cross the threshold to her new life and family, Raven demonstrates she has earned his respect, and Rey makes a vow to return to the castle to save Naeli and all the other children – and this time with an army.

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