Book two in The Four Horsemen Series
Fighting the battle in his own heart, War must find peace before he can find love.
War destroyed an entire tribe of innocent people when he was human, all because his best friend lied to him. His guilt brings him a destiny he never planned. As the Red Horseman, War spends the centuries creating battles and wars between countries to restore balance in the world. While he accepts the job to atone for his sins, he wishes he didn’t cause men to kill each other. War lives a solitary life, without hope of ever finding forgiveness.
From the mountains of Afghanistan to the plains of Kansas, and to the steppes of Mongolia, Russell Heinz searches for peace. He’s battling survivor’s guilt after having two members of his army unit die within feet of him. His own mind shuts down, and Russell spends time in a mental ward, dreaming of a man with blood-red hair and all-black eyes. Unsure if the man is real or just a figment of his wounded mind, Russell heads to Mongolia, looking for forgiveness of his own.
Separately, Russell and War fight their own personal demons. Together, they find peace in a love tested by the fires of battle.
Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.
Baqir shivered as he grew colder from blood loss. He gritted his teeth to keep from shouting out and bring his guards in to save him. If he waited long enough, nothing could be done for him.
Blackness dotted his vision and he let his eyes close. He drifted along until he slipped under and lost consciousness.
“Open your eyes.”
Baqir frowned and forced his eyes open. Blinking, he stared up into the face of a pale haired man. Something about the man’s eyes bothered him. He studied the stranger until he realised the man’s eyes were pure black, no white parts or pupils.
“Who are you? Where are we?”
After sitting up, Baqir glanced around, trying to place the barren landscape. It didn’t look anything like the desert he grew up in and ruled until his death.
“Wait a minute. Didn’t I die? Did someone save me?”
Stiffening, Baqir glared at him. “Who are you to tell me what to do?”
“I’m Death and you are War.”
“War? What the hell are you talking about?”
“There are four of us and we keep the balance between good and evil. If the world becomes unbalanced, we must step in to even it out. I am Death. I’m the last defence against the end of the world. Pestilence is the first line with you and Famine coming along. We can only hope mortals listen before I arrive.”
The stranger grabbed Baqir’s arm and yanked him to his feet. Baqir stumbled, but managed to right himself before he landed on his face. He touched his hand to his chest and pulled it back. No sign of blood anywhere.
“Was it just a dream?”
Death shook his head. “No. A boy whose tribe you massacred really murdered you in your tent. I need you to come with me.”
The pale haired man gestured to where a red stallion stood, pawing the ground. “He is yours. Come with me and I will show you what you need to do.”
“I’m not going with you.” He dug his heels in and shook his head.
“You don’t have a choice. Not anymore. You made it when you allowed the kid to plunge his knife into your chest without fighting back.”
“I understood his need for revenge. I destroyed his tribe because a person I thought I knew betrayed me.” Baqir shrugged. “I probably would have done the same if it was my tribe massacred.”
“Hmmm.” Death didn’t look concerned either way about it.
Baqir growled as Death grabbed his arm and dragged him over to the stallion. He struggled, but the man’s grip tightened enough, he almost cut off Baqir’s circulation. His mount turned his head to look at him and Baqir gasped.
As if the blood red colour of the horse’s coat wasn’t clue enough, the blood red eyes told him the creature wasn’t a normal horse. Reaching out, Baqir rested his hand on the stallion’s shoulder. An electric shock raced through him and the horse snorted like he felt it as well.
“Get on. We have things to do and I don’t have much time to get you up to speed.”
Dazed, Baqir climbed aboard the horse and settled into the saddle. The moment his butt hit the leather, Death nudged his pale horse and they leapt into action. He gasped as he saw the cliff they raced towards without any hint of stopping.
“What the hell,” he shouted as the horses jumped off the edge.
A clap of thunder and a flash of lightning blinded him, and all went black around him.
Centuries had gone by and Baqir slowly forgot most of his life before he died. Oh he remembered what he’d done to deserve the hell he lived in now, but he didn’t remember faces or names. He went by the title War since he was the Red Horseman. So many wars and battles. So many mortals dead because of greed or revenge.
“When will this be over?”
War stood on a cliff higher up the mountain, overlooking a pass. Both sides of the ten-year long war shot at each other. Over the centuries he did this, he’d grown deaf to the sounds of battle, though the noise of the dying still bothered him at a soul deep level.
“Some form of this conflict will continue for decades more, but one side of this particular war will be leaving soon.”
He turned to meet the impassive gaze of Death, his fellow Horseman. Not the same one who’d shaken him from the darkness and told him his entire life would be different from that moment on.
“How do you know?”
Death shrugged, his face expressionless. He made a snake seem warm and cuddly. “They’ve paid dearly with blood and money for a never-ending war. They will return to their own country where their own people threaten to revolt.”
As he turned back to look at the fight below him, weariness waved over War. He’d been a Horseman for more centuries than he could remember. Battles and fighting was all he knew. At moments like these though, he wished he could give it all up for a lasting death.
“Go home. Ride your horses. Train the young ones. Forget about this for a while.”
Death gestured towards the mayhem going on below them. War nodded as a large red stallion paced up to him.
He mounted, but before he left, he asked, “Will this ever stop?”
“What?” For a moment, Death seemed puzzled by War’s question.
“War and the constant need to destroy each other and the world.”
The Pale Horseman looked at him with a strangely understanding glance. “Soon it won’t matter to you anymore.”
War frowned, but Death turned away, ending the conversation. It was time for him to return to the steppes of Mongolia, where his herd wandered and he could forget about battles for a while.
As he rode off, Death sighed. Melancholy and despair radiated from War, yet Death had seen what was in store for the Red Horseman and what he’d said had been true.
Soon War wouldn’t care about being a Horseman. Change was coming quickly.
Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. Have a great Monday, everyone. 🙂
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