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Nightkeepers

Final Prophecy – Book 1

By Jessica Andersen

Leah’s head spun. She should be so out of there. This was nuts. Insane. Completely unbelievable. But she was a cop, and cops followed the evidence. Right now, the evidence—if she could believe her own senses, anyway—was telling her there was something seriously whacked going on. Logic—and what she knew about how the world worked—said none of this was real. But if it wasn’t real, how did she explain what’d just happened to her?

Her options seemed to be limited to: A) magic existed, and she’d gotten caught up in something way outside her comfort zone; or B) magic didn’t exist, and she’d been kidnapped, nearly drowned, and then boffed a total stranger.

She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to slow the spins, trying not to freak right the hell out and start screaming at the dark-haired man. ‘‘And here I was last night thinking you were a fantasy, and how that was better than your being a doomsday nut.’’

‘‘Last night?’’

She realized her mistake too late, and backpedaled. ‘‘I meant just now.’’

‘‘No, you didn’t. Which means you dreamed about me.’’

Everything inside her went still. ‘‘Why do you say that?’’

Heat kindled in his dark blue eyes. ‘‘Because I sure as hell dreamed of you.’’

Every twenty-six thousand years, the earth, sun, and moon align at the exact center of the Milky Way . . . and all hell breaks loose.

During the last Great Conjunction, in 24,000 B.C., the earth’s magnetic poles reversed, sunspots torched half the planet, tsunamis drowned the other half, and terrible, bloodthirsty demons broke out of the underworld and destroyed the civilization that would later become known as Atlantis.

The few survivors of the devastation, powerful warrior-priests called Nightkeepers, managed to band together and kick the demons’ asses back to the underworld, sealing them behind a barrier of psi energy. Ever since then, the Nightkeepers and their servants, the winikin, have had one imperative: to stay alive until the next Great Conjunction, when the magi will be the only power standing between mankind and the demons’ return . . .

... on December 21, 2012.

For tens of thousands of years, the Nightkeepers have walked among normal humans, teaching them math, science, writing, and an intricate polytheistic religion based on blood sacrifice and sex. They lived first with the Egyptians and then with the Maya, influencing the development of ancient legends and prophecies, and the backward-ticking Mayan Long Count calendar that will end on the day of the Great Conjunction, signaling that there is no more time to count. On that day, mankind will either enter a new time cycle, one of enlightenment . . . or humanity will cease to exist. It will be up to the Nightkeepers, guardians of the night and protectors of the barrier between the earth and the underworld, to make sure time continues past the zero date and mankind is enlightened, not annihilated.

Within the Mayan Empire, however, arose the Order of Xibalba, a group of demon-worshiping dark magi who believed that when the zero date came and humanity was destroyed, they would become the leaders of the new earth.

The Maya had no knowledge of the wheel or metal tools, yet they produced thousands of soaring stone temples and pyramids, serving a population that eventually topped thirteen million. They worshiped time and their three calendars, one of which was a set of daily prophecies used to plan everything from marriages and the naming of children, to wars and sacrifices. There were also larger prophecies repeating on a longer cycle that still holds today. One such prophecy, set for the Gregorian date of Easter Day 1521, spoke of a white man coming from the east. The Nightkeepers warned that he brought death and destruction. Members of the Order of Xibalba, however, convinced the Maya that this heralded the coming of the god Kulkulkan (later known as Quetzalcoatl).

When Cortes and the Spanish conquistadors appeared on precisely this day, the Maya welcomed them into their lands and hearts. Over the next thirty years, pre-Columbian civilization was decimated by disease, war, and the efforts of the conquistadors’ missionaries, who slaughtered the priests and burned tens of thousands of written texts in their zeal to convert the ‘‘heathens’’ from the Mayan pantheon to the missionaries’ one true God. A handful of Nightkeeper children survived the slaughter, protected by their winikin . . . but most of their traditions and all but a few of their spellbooks were lost.

The Order of Xibalba went underground, over time becoming a rumor, and then a myth. The surviving Nightkeepers fled north and took shelter with the Hopi for several hundred years, then eventually liquidated many of their artifacts and used the money to build a training center deep in the Chacoan territories of New Mexico. Each year the warrior-priests gathered at the training center to celebrate the equinoxes and solstices, the four cardinal days when the barrier was thinnest and the magi were sometimes able to speak to their gods and ancestors. They collected the remaining spells, along with their theories on the end date and interpretations of the ancient prophecies, in a hidden archive. They trained. They raised their children. And they waited for the Long Count to run out, signaling the time for war.

Then, nearly thirty years before the zero date, the Nightkeepers’ king had a vision unlike any other—one he believed was sent by the gods. Even though prescience was never granted to Nightkeeper males, King Scarred-Jaguar saw himself leading an attack on the intersection of the earth, sky, and underworld and sealing the barrier forever, using a spell that was burned into his mind when he awoke . . . a spell that hadn’t existed on earth since the fifteen hundreds. A spell given to him by the gods.

This intersection, located in a sacred underground chamber beneath the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, was the one place the gods and demons could access the earthly plane. While sealing the intersection would rob the Nightkeepers of their magic and forever separate them from their gods, it would also prevent the coming apocalypse.

Or so the king believed.

PART I

SUMMER SOLSTICE

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