Thank you for having me on the blog today! Releasing Chaos is the last book in the Sumeria’s Sons series. For the final sendoff, I have put together a series of flash fiction pieces that happen near the end of Dragon’s Eye or in between Dragon’s Eye and Releasing Chaos. These are little on-the-side scenes that don’t have an impact on the plot arc of Sumeria’s Sons so you won’t encounter any spoilers for the final book. This takes place before the end of Dragon’s Eye, during the God Mithra’s announcement. Enjoy!
Coming Home – Part One
“Look upon us, sons of Enkidu and Gilgamesh. Here before me stands King Tristan Ksathra Janick, son of Ammon and Rachel Janick. His bloodline is true. May his reign be one of prosperity and peace. May his enemies…”
Justus stopped listening. He was too focused on parsing the scents to be startled when the crowd erupted into a joyous roar. He’d been agitated, restless for an hour now for no good reason. When they left the house to meet the God and Goddesses in the field, he assumed their presence was what made him restless. With everyone else, he looked on with pride when one of the Gods proclaimed Uncle Tristan king. Then the hint of a scent tickled Justus’s nose. He and his wolf went on alert and focused on finding it again.
The towering God Verethragna calmed the celebrating crowd as Justus worked his way to the outer edges. There, the people weren’t packed together so closely and he hoped he could better catch the elusive scent so he could give chase. Excitement and dread coursed through him. He almost changed to his wolf to use his beast’s keens senses, but if Stan caught him, he’d have to explain he could smell Randy in the crowd. He’d promised Stan he wouldn’t go looking for Randy and he was afraid Stan wouldn’t believe him when he claimed his Twin Flame was close by. He didn’t have time to explain and convince his mentor. He and his wolf desperately needed to find Randy. With the hint of him being so close, Justus couldn’t give up his hunt—not for anybody.
For months he’d had to sit back and wait. He’d sensed the danger to Randy before Stan had come home from the Ophidian trials. He’d accidentally overheard Stan’s conversation with Bixx, learning Randy had crossed over into Irkalla. Without being told, Justus knew Irkalla was the Sumerian underworld and a bone deep visceral fear had gripped him.
Time and again he attempted to slip by Stan so that he could go to Randy, terrified of what was happening to his Twin Flame. But Stan had to have superpowers because he caught Justus every single time. How could he explain he felt the danger that surrounded Randy? Or how he knew Randy couldn’t return without help? Uttu taught him and his sisters the history of the Gods and Goddesses, but she hadn’t covered anything about the Land of the Dead or the queen who ruled there. Yet Justus knew the history as if he’d personally knew the Goddess Ereshkigal. She’d sided with Tiamat in the Iggi War and, as her punishment, she wasn’t allowed to leave her realm of Irkalla. She’d been caged there with no way out ever since. And if Randy had gone to see her, then neither could he return.
Justus wasn’t sure if he attempted to explain what he knew that anyone would believe him. He was only nine years old and just a kid, even if he remembered and dreamed about things that were old and weird. So, he tried to sneak past Stan, sure there was a way he could help Randy, even if he wasn’t sure what exactly he could do.
The one and only time Justus had snuck by Stan, he actually made it to the Anunnaki Gateway. His fingers moved over the cool stone as if he’d opened the gate hundreds of times before.
He barely heard Stan’s call over the howling wind of the snow storm. He paused, knowing that if he stepped between the stone pillars he would be in Irkalla.
“Please, Justus. Just hear me out.”
He looked to the path where Stan approached, his hands held high, palms outward. Like Justus, Stan had stepped out of the house and into the snowstorm without donning a jacket. Justus hadn’t grabbed his coat because it would’ve given away his intentions. Stan’s loose-fitting clothing rippled in the wind, the end of his red cowl flapping like a flag.
“Do you have a plan?”
Justus blinked, a fine shiver working up his spine. He’d expected Stan would make a demand, use his alpha power to make Justus and his wolf obey. But instead he asked a question.
“When you cross over to Irkalla, what are you going to do?” Even through Stan’s bronze skin tone, his scalp looked an angry red from the cold and snow.
“I’m going to help Randy. He needs to come home,” he told Stan.
“How? You have to pass through the seven holy gates before you enter Irkalla and passage is only one way for mortals. How are you going to return with Randy?” Stan took another step closer.
Justus opened his mouth to tell him how but the knowledge that was right there, hidden in the shadows of his mind refused to come forth. He knew there was a way but he couldn’t recall how. “I need to be with Randy. He needs me to be at his side,” he said instead.
“So you’re going to jeopardize his mission? Irkalla is a dangerous place and, for the moment, Randy only has to worry about himself. But if you’re there, he’ll need to protect you above all else. He won’t be able to focus on what he needs to do and if he makes a mistake and fails, what then?”
Justus let out his wolf’s whine. He didn’t want to mess up Randy’s plans but the need to be with Twin Flame pushed at him hard.
“Do you not think Randy has planned how to return from Irkalla? What if the way only allows for one to come through?” Stan pressed when Justus didn’t reply. “He would send you through and he’d stay.”
Justus blinked back tears. It wasn’t fair. “He’s mine and he needs me.”
“He needs you here where he knows you are safe.” Stan was now only an arm’s length away and Justus craned his neck to look up at his mentor. To his left, the magic of the gateway called to him. But now he worried that if he stepped through, Randy would be trapped. He didn’t want to be the reason Randy had to stay in the underworld.
“He’s been gone so long. Why hasn’t he come home yet?” He knew that Stan couldn’t possibly know but neither could Stan feel the danger to Randy.
“Time passes differently on the other planes. For all we know, he’s only been there a couple of hours.”
Justus glanced at the gateway. Or the opposite could be true and Randy had been stuck there for years already.
“I know it’s hard for you to be away from your Twin Flame but you need to trust that he knows what he’s doing and he’ll return when he can.”
Justus hastily wiped at the tear that rolled down his cheek then swiped at the closest pillar, closing the gateway. Stan grabbed him up in a tight hug. He shivered with cold as he cried into Stan’s warm neck.
After that day, he stopped trying to escape Stan. His wolf continued to argue they needed to go to Randy. But Stan’s warning Justus would be trapped in Irkalla stopped him cold. He wasn’t a stranger to fear. After his dad died, he’d been afraid of Daniel. Then Uncle Tristan and Uncle Ushna took him and his sisters in and slowly the day-to-day terror he lived with dissipated. But this new dread that gripped him when he thought about being trapped in Irkalla made him want to shift into his wolf and find a deep dark den to hide in. Stan’s argument that Justus would jeopardize Randy’s mission was also a valid point that he strangely understood. Both reasons stayed his hand, but they didn’t negate the welling guilt for not doing everything in his power to bring his Twin Flame home. Since then, he’d been at odds with his wolf. Under Stan’s watchful eyes, he worked hard to have dominion over his beast. Even though he worried constantly about what could be keeping his Twin Flame, he consoled himself with the knowledge he could still feel his bond to Randy. As long as it remained unbroken, he knew Randy still lived.
For months, he’d waited and hoped. With each dawn, he wondered with an aching yearning if today would be the day Randy returned. Now he searched the crowd, trying to catch Randy’s scent again. When he saw Ereshkigal a spike of fear raced down his spine. He watched her gown of black feathers disappear into the crowd. Behind her followed two dark men dressed only in white knee-length skirts belted with copper links. They carried a form that barely looked like his Twin Flame. Randy’s unnaturally pale skin was stretch tight over bone and the lower half of his face was covered in a wild, tangled beard.
Justus’s wolf surged forward, snarling. He lifted his lip in a silent challenge as he stealthily stalked the three people. Using the crowd for cover, he watched as Randy was dumped at Uncle Tristan’s feet. Only the flare of Uncle Tristan’s nostrils and the tightening around his eyes gave away any emotion. But Justus knew his uncle and saw his wariness, resolve, and the hint of anger his uncle tried to hide. Justus didn’t hear what they spoke of, nor did he care. After Ereshkigal left, Uncle Tristan and Uncle Ushna checked Randy, their touches light and loving.
When Uncle Tristan lifted Randy into his arms, Justus turned to track the Goddess who’d kept his Twin Flame from him. His wolf demanded to be let out but Justus pushed him back. For months Stan had mentored him, reminding Justus he was first a man and a wolf second. He utilized those lessons now to keep from being tempted by his furious beast. He would choose their course of action, not his wolf.
The crowd celebrated, no one paying attention to Justus as he stalked his prey. Ereshkigal did not stay to speak with the other Gods and Goddesses but moved to the edge of the crowd closest to the tent city, where the wounded warriors lived. A flutter of black feathers disappeared behind one of those tents.
He hurried after her, not wanting to lose sight of her even if he could track her dry sagelike scent. When he rounded the corner, he had to halt abruptly or run into his quarry. Stumbling over his own feet, he fell on his butt. Craning his neck, he looked up at her and let loose a protracted growl that was filled with all the anger, worry, and terror he’d carried these last few months. The sound grew louder the longer he held it, his wolf scrambling to look out of his eyes and see this threat to their Twin Flame.
Ereshkigal arched a delicate, white brow before suddenly sitting on her heels, making it easier for Justus to look her in the eye. He cut off the growl when he realized her smile wasn’t challenging or even mean. Instead, she looked him over and inhaled his scent while she fidgeted with the end of her braid.
“You remind me of my oldest child, heading off into adventure and danger without a thought to the consequences. I suspect you will grow out of such bad habits, though.”
“You cannot have Randy back. He’s mine.” Justus said vehemently. Ereshkigal’s demeanor confused him but he needed her to understand she could not take what wasn’t hers.
“Of course he’s yours. Without you, this world would have more than one chaos monster. My sister had the king of Uruk under her thumb, doing her bidding without question until you came along and stole him out from under her nose. Enki knew what he was doing when he created you.”
Justus frowned. He felt as if he should understand what she’d said but didn’t. Plus, she was agreeable. He’d expected her to fight, or at least to argue and threaten him.
“You are different than I remember, little wolf.” She cocked her head to the side, looking very much like a bird of prey as her eyes narrowed. “Gilgamesh was always the reckless one while you spoke words of caution. But then again, at the time you were crafted to be a fully formed… well, not quite a man shape but close enough for Enki’s purposes. You were unwavering in your belief of how the world should be and you charmed Gilgamesh into following your example. How different would you have been if you were crafted to be a babe first, gaining the experiences that would make you a man? Would those experiences have twisted your ideals into something altogether different?”
Justus was ready to tell her where she could take her confusing words and her ideas about what he should or would be. He was sure she was speaking about him like he’d been living in another time. Sure, Lycans were reincarnated but how would she know who’d he’d once been? Perhaps she’d spent too much time in the underworld and she had a couple bolts loose? A noise behind him caused him to glance over his shoulder. There stood a God who wore weird black underwear and nothing else but sandals. He did remind Justus of Randy with his cork-screw black hair and beard.
“I fashioned Enkidu to temper the wildness of the wolf’s soul within Gilgamesh,” the God said, his smile kind.
“And in the process, took away Inanna’s toy. When Gilgamesh eschewed all else to be with his beloved Enkidu, this vendetta of hers began.” Ereshkigal sounded as if she was reprimanding the God.
Justus’s confusion multiplied with each passing minute. He’d followed Ereshkigal to warn her away from Randy. The little ball of fear he’d held in his stomach since hearing where Randy had disappeared to grew as he glanced between the two Gods. He was not afraid of the Queen of the Land of the Dead, but of the realm she ruled over. It was a fear he couldn’t explain since he’d never been to Ereshkigal’s land. He didn’t want Randy anywhere near the underworld ever again and he’d hoped that by confronting Ereshkigal his fear would go away and Randy would be safe. This confrontation didn’t seem to solve anything, giving him more questions than answers.
The God stared down at him with stern black eyes. “Should you not be with Randy?”
“Oh, leave him alone, Enki. The boy only wanted to tell me to stay away from his Twin Flame.” Ereshkigal’s tone sounded almost fond.
Justus grabbed onto her statement with rising hope but it was the God Enki who asked, “And will you?”
Now that question Justus understood and he waited impatiently for her answer.
“That will depend entirely on the Lycan’s king.”
Justus could no longer read Ereshkigal’s expression but, then again, he didn’t have to. “Okay,” he said as he rolled to his feet and dusted off his jeans.
Enki’s grin widened. “That is all? Simply, okay?”
Justus looked at both of them and shrugged. His wolf had been still, waiting to see if they had to administer a more powerful warning. But upon hearing her reply, his wolf calmed as well. “My Uncle Tristan is a badass. He always keeps his word.”
“Such confidence in your sovereign. I’m impressed,” she said. “I pray he does not disappoint you.”
Justus’s sense of self shifted, the person he’d been dreaming about for months now seemed to wake within him. The feeling of weary age came with his dream self as he stared at Enki and Ereshkigal. “He carries the blood of the First Mother. He returned from the dead. I doubt there isn’t much in this world or in the realms scattered among the other gates that he can’t defeat.”
Without waiting for a reply, Justus headed back to the ranch house.
Behind him, Enki made a noise of surprise. “How would he know about Mother and what lies beyond the gates?”
“You shouldn’t be surprised, dear brother. You created him. I don’t think multiple incarnations can wipe away all that he knows.”
Justus gave an ugly snort. Gods and Goddesses were plain weird. He caught a whiff of Randy. The scent washed away the confusion caused by the encounter, filling him with excitement. Randy was home. Now that he was reassured Randy was safe, Justus ran across the pasture to the house.
Title: Releasing Chaos
Author: Lexi Ander
Series: Sumeria’s Sons #6
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Categories: Gay, Paranormal, Poly, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 132,000 words
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Everything Tristan, Ushna, and Brian have fought for comes down to the moment they face Inanna and Marduk. Before then, Ushna must embrace his destiny and be transformed by Tiamat. But he returns with a fractured mind and will need the help of the new firebird or he’ll be lost to the insanity of a primordial God. If he’s lost, so is the balance Brian and Tristan sorely need.
Tristan has vowed to care for his ex-Flame, Theo Sullivan, who is doomed to forget more and more with each use of his new ability. When not dealing with his stubborn ex, Tristan must free the warriors stolen by the government and devise a trap for Inanna.
And that’s only the start of the challenges, and everything that can still go wrong.
Find Sumeria’s Sons series on Goodreads
We Nameless had been running hard for many days. Something crawled under our ruff, beckoning us to go southeast. The part of us that was once human cowered in the back of our minds, pleading with us to stay in our dens, but we could not. The pull was strong, and we responded to the urgent need that seeped into our paws from the ground.
“Hurry,” The Earth Mother whispered to us.
Months ago, our alpha freed us from the vileness of our human side, locking away the corruption so we could teach our humans the lessons they had either forgotten or were never taught. We shared the joys of running on four paws, of being family, of supporting each other through the hunt. We gave them our love for the land, the sky, the water, and for each other. We showed them how to work together and yet still be individuals. For we were wolf. Hunter. Predator. Mother. Father. Family.
Now as they proclaimed their fear, we would teach them how to stand together, to use their instincts to discern right from wrong. The Earth Mother called us to the alpha’s aid. Though he made us Nameless, he had shown us mercy and set us free. He would forever be our alpha and we his tribe, his people.
As we loped, closing the distance between us and the one who needed us, the Earth Mother pushed healing through our paws, fortifying our energy and curbing our hunger. We stopped briefly alongside a stream to drink our fill before once again we hurried on. The urgency rode us as we ran across fields, through sleepy towns, over grassy plains, and entered foreign woods. We were close now and we hoped we would arrive in time.
As one, we threw our voices into the wind. “We come to stand by your side. To be your shield. To hunt with you and take down your prey. To protect our people. We come, our Alpha, we come.”
I didn’t know what disturbed me from a sound sleep, but an itch between my shoulders forced me from my room to prowl the dark house. For a couple of days now, I’d been sensing… I pushed out the back door, barely catching the screen before it slapped noisily against the frame, waking the whole house.
Before tragedy had taken Tristan away from us for half a year, he’d entrusted into my care the wolf forms of the traitors who’d attempted to murder him. Members of Tribe Uras collaborated with the rogue, Craig Stoiler, and invaded Tristan’s ranch. I would’ve had them killed for their treachery, but Tristan had another idea. He’d stripped the people of their human form, giving their wolf dominion. The demonstration of his power as the supreme alpha and prince of our people proved his lineage to the doubting members of the Council of Five, but there was an additional reason for his action. He’d given them a second chance, of sorts, and ordered some twenty-eight wolves to follow my commands as their handler.
Whatever type of transformation magic Tristan performed had a lasting effect. With the events that had transpired following his return, I didn’t have a chance to relay to him I could still feel those wolves. He’d tied them to me that fate-filled day, not that I was upset. What I sensed of them was harmless, a simple awareness nestled in the back of my mind, telling me their state of being and general welfare… until now.
The stars shone sharp and bright overhead, the sky a virtual blanket of diamonds. The sight still made my breath catch, especially after spending so many years in California cities, where the light was muted. My eyes were drawn to the northwest. The string attaching me to them pulled with their sense of urgency. They were coming. Perhaps it was time to tell Tristan about my relationship with them. Something caused the pack to leave their dens in the Canadian tundra. I wasn’t sure if this sense of urgency coming from them was a portent of good or evil. For Tristan’s sake, I hoped the banished members of Tribe Uras didn’t intend to attack him a second time. I’d grown quite fond of the playfulness of their wolves in the corner of my mind, and I’d hate to be the one who sent them on to their next reincarnation.
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Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.