The house flickered with eerie lights as I pulled my minivan into the driveway. I wondered if the effects were intentional since it was Samhain. It was just after six and almost completely dark. Every other house I’d driven by had already lit their pumpkins to shine into the night and ward off spirits. But most of the world celebrated Halloween, and the day was all about candy for them.
I glanced back to the two carriers strapped into the second row seats. My babies both mumbled intelligible things and moved their little fingers. At almost seven months, Mizuki and Sakura were quickly outgrowing their baby stage. Mizu was sitting up and rolling over often, on the verge of crawling, and Kura was fighting hard to not fall behind her big brother. I could put the two together on a play mat for hours and they’d entertain each other. It was often how I worked, only interrupted on occasion by infectious baby laughter, which had the rare power to make me smile.
They kept me going. Without the twins I wasn’t sure how I’d wake up each day.
I put the car in park and stared at the house. It’d been awhile since I’d actually gone inside. Hanna and Ally had bought the mansion late last year with my mother, and Hanna and my older brother, Jamie’s help. It had been a fixer-upper, now it was grander than the Rou Mansion. South of the Twin Cities, the nearest town was nearly an hour drive, but it had thirty acres to run on, and I spent a lot of new moons here recently, running through the thick brush and ancient trees.
The main door of the house opened. Hanna stepped onto the porch. She was dressed in a black dress that swept her ankles and had a pointy witch hat on her head. “I guess they are waiting for us, babies. Let’s go celebrate the harvest.”
I got out of the van, walked around the side, and then stripped off my coat and threw it on the passenger seat before opening the door to free my babies. Mizu’s eyes were wide.
“What, you don’t like it?” I asked him as I twirled in my catsuit. It was molded brown leather custom ordered from a cosplay website. With a few minor modifications, including a dark green leather kilt to hide anything the suit showed off since there would be kids around, the outfit was perfect for the mini-mask that Hanna was hosting. “Daddy’s a tree. Can’t you tell?”
My hair was green, and I’d spent about twenty minutes weaving paper leaves into it. I’d styled it up so it would be out of the way and not a tempting handle for small grabby hands. Both babies had watched me play with the paper leaves with fascination on their faces. The fact that I’d made them from the brightest fall colors possible probably helped.
Mizu squinted his eyes, and then sneezed.
“Oh goodness, we better make sure you’re bundled up.”
I crawled inside the van to unlock the babyseats and stepped into a pile of leaves. “How did those get in here?” Had I left the door open? The leaves crunched beneath my feet as I kicked them out the door. “Earth just follows us everywhere, doesn’t it babies?”
The twins were dressed as pumpkins. Matching orange jackets, though the jack-o-lanterns on the front were different, thick gloves and a brown stem hat that covered their ears, made up the outfit. Once they were both unstrapped, I double checked their zippers and ties. Everyone was in place. Time to go inside, couldn’t avoid the crowd forever.
“Look at our beautiful babies! Oh Ally, come look!” Hanna squealed as she came around the car to help with the carriers.
Ally, her spouse, stepped out of the house looking like Marilyn Monroe, blond hair teased up, and frilly white dress. Two seconds later she too was squealing over the twins and talking baby talk. Mizuki and Sakura could reduce anyone to single syllable and high pitched tones in half a heartbeat. “Their costumes are great, Sei! Perfect.”
I’d been working on the costumes for weeks. Hanna had asked me a million times if I just wanted her to buy them something cute and simple, like a lion or those weird penguin suits. But I’d been adamant. My babies were going to celebrate Samhain the right way. Costumes were handmade, candy simple, the night begun with lighting candles and ended with blowing them out.
Jamie, my older brother stepped out of the house, he was dressed like a giant teddy bear, pawed mitts and all. Kelly, his lover and my best friend, came down the steps behind him dressed as hockey player, though instead of ice skates he had roller blades.
“So this is what you were working on,” Kelly said. He kissed each of the twin’s foreheads. “Making them perfect little pumpkins.”
“Press their tummies gently, right where the nose is,” I told him.
Kelly pressed Mizuki and a pale glowing light poured through the little pumpkin.
Hanna squealed again and turned Sakura’s suit on.
“Had one of the IT people at work help me with that part,” I told them all. “But it’s LED so it’s safe and won’t burn out.”
“That is amazing, Sei.” Jamie whipped out his phone and began taking pictures.
“Oh I have to get mine too!” Hanna rushed back into the house.
Ally took Kura out of her seat, and I got Mizu. Hanna came back out and called, “Everyone pose with the twins.” I let her snap a few pictures.
Mizu yawned, and Kura snapped her lips wanting her nook. I had them in the pocket of my kilt, but was hoping to keep the kids awake a little longer by holding on to them.
“They twins are already sleepy,” I said, though they’d had a nap today. Hanna had talked about taking them trick or treating. I had protested briefly, but as long as we did the normal Samhain stuff, I didn’t care if their momma wanted to walk them around and gather candy they couldn’t eat anyway.
“Dinner should be ready,” Hanna said as she led us inside.
“Seiran,” my mom called as we walked in the door. She was positively glowing with happiness as she crossed the room and kissed me lightly on the cheek before bending to kiss each baby. Mizu opened sleepy eyes and reached for her. She took him from me with an ease of movement only a mom could have. Kura made sleepy noises, but looked pretty comfortable in Ally’s arms. “I hope you’re hungry. The soup should be ready.”
I followed her toward the dining room. The harvest theme ran through the house. She always hired professional decorators to make it memorable, but this year’s design was simpler, less commercial Halloween and more true Samhain. Maybe that was Hanna’s influence. The double glass doors from the dining room where open to let in the brisk air of the evening. Two tiny pumpkins and one larger one sat on the end of the table. My mom went to the door and shut it, closing out some of the cold and immediately the warmth of the fireplace eased some of the shivering in my bones.
“The big pumpkin is yours. The little ones are for each of the babies. I thought you might want to light them before dinner,” my mom motioned to the chair on that end of the room. I took Mizu from her as I made my way across the room. His eyes were all over the bright orange blobs on the table. The past few weeks, each time we’d gone to the grocery store I’d pointed them out to him and Kura. I’d even taken them to a tiny patch that a co-worker had so they could touch the leaves and take in the bright colors of the fall.
The large pumpkin was carved with in intricate tree spanning almost the full length of one side and was duplicated on the opposite side. My name was written in the base of the tree in large letters. The two smaller gourds were similar, only instead of a large tree, they were little seedlings, sprouting out of the ground, each of the twins’ names carved into the tiny stalk.
Baby fingers on my cheeks brought me back into the now as I realized tears were falling from my eyes. Mizu’s little fingers reached for my hair on one side, and touched my face on the other. “Sorry, baby. Daddy’s okay. Just tired.” I glanced up around the room and realized that other than immediate family, no one else had entered the dining room with us. When Hanna had said it was a small party, I figured she would have invited some friends from work.
Everyone had taken their seat and was waiting for me it seemed, to light the candles and get on with it. “Sorry, everyone.”
“No worries, Sei. Do you want me to take Mizu while you light the pumpkins?” Ally appeared at my side, and held out her arms. I let her take him. Jamie handed me a lighter stick. I flicked it on, opening my pumpkin first, and reached inside to light the little white wick.
The candle inside roared to life, casting the flickering shadow of a tree on the wall. When the two smaller pumpkins began to glow too, I felt a little lighter hearted. It would all work out. Sure being alone sucked, but I was really only as alone as I wanted to be. Everyone in the room was more than willing to come when called, whether it be for baby patrol or just a last minute movie night. I stared around the room at my family and really loved them for being there. Even though there was an empty chair beside me, I didn’t feel as though he were far away. Maybe since this was the night of thin veils he was here somehow.
That was just wrong. He wasn’t dead. He was just sleeping, I reminded myself. Even if I couldn’t feel him in my head.
My eyes went blurry again. Damn tears. But then there were waiters bringing out bowls of pumpkin soup and slices of the cornbread I’d been craving all day. Hanna and I set up the twins in their highchairs. I was used to my food being cold by the time the kids had eaten, but the waiters didn’t even bring our bowls until the twins had finished their pumpkin soup and were gnawing on pieces of bread. Both were my recipes, and I could feel the warmth of having them served for the holiday spread through me.
Jamie cleared his throat as I was pushing my bowl aside. When I looked up all eyes were on him and Kelly.
“Kelly and I have talked about this for a while.” Jamie looked at Kelly who nodded. “And we wanted to announce this tonight, not to take away from the holiday, but as a symbol of upcoming growth.”
I blinked at them. Were they saying what I thought they were saying?
“We’ve decided to have a baby.”
The room sat in dead silence. Jamie smiled at me. “You’ve shown us how much we really want our own, Sei. We want our babies to grow up with yours, so Kelly and I are in the process of choosing a surrogate.”
“Will she be a witch?” My mother asked.
“Only if she gives up all rights to us,” Kelly replied. “The baby will be ours. In fact my older sister has volunteered to donate a few of her eggs, so the baby will be part me, part Jamie.”
“A water-earth mix?” Had that ever been done, I wondered? Would the baby inherit water since that was the stronger element? Baby. There would be more babies. I burst into tears.
Jamie was at my side rubbing my back in an instant. “I didn’t want to upset you. We were going to wait. But we really want our baby to be close in age to Mizuki and Sakura. We just don’t know how long…”
I let myself fall into his arms and just cry it out. I was happy for them. Really I was. My babies would get to play with their babies, and they’d all get to grow up in one big happy family. Only Gabe was supposed to be there too.
“It’s probably the best time for this then, too,” Hanna said, as she adjusted Kura’s baby bib nervously. “Ally and I want all of you to come live with us. Permanently. The house is big enough, and we’re planning on adding on. In fact we’ve got an indoor pool scheduled to be installed this coming spring. Jamie, Ally, and I have been renovating. Making private spaces for each of us, with enough shared space to keep the family together.” She motioned to me. “We redid the entire basement. So it’s got enough room for you and the twins, and Gabe when he wakes up, and a kitchen and a library, so if you want to be alone, you can be, but you don’t have to be.”
It was all too much at once. My head was spinning. Mizu was nestled in my mother’s arms, and Ally was cleaning up Kura with a damp rag.
“I—” But I didn’t know what I wanted to say. For months I’d been juggling my job, my kids, running Gabe’s businesses, and taking care of his home and my own. If I got rid of the condos, or even just closed them up for a while, maybe it would be one less thing on my plate. Kelly was never at our place. He was always at school or with Jamie.
“We’ve got the babies, Sei,” Hanna told me. “If you need to go for a little while, it’ll be fine.” Everyone was nodding in agreement. My whole world was unraveling, had been for months, but here they all were, united, wanting to help. It just made me want to cry again.
“How about I drive? You look a little shaky. Maybe talking to Gabe will help,” Kelly offered.
“But they babies-”
“Are fine. They have plenty of family to take care of them. Tanaka and Ally can put them down for the night. You know there are jammies here, and I bet you have nooks in that fancy pocket on your kilt. You’ll have to tell me where you got that, by the way, ‘cause I want one.”
I dug out the nooks, and wanted to protest, after all it was Samhain, but my head was still swimming with the craziness of too much change at once. How did anyone become equipped to deal with this sort of thing on their own? Or were we born with the ability, only to lose it when we found someone to depend on? I kissed my babies and headed for the door, thinking maybe it was okay to talk to him tonight, avoiding him for months meant I’d earned it, right? It was okay if he didn’t respond. Sometimes the therapy was all in what I let go of rather than held on to.
Kelly’s new car was much smaller than the minivan. I knew it was big enough to hold the kids, but I’d never been a passenger in it before myself. The car steered nice, and didn’t smell like babies, which just made me sad.
“If it’s too soon, Sei, just tell us. We can wait a little longer. Both Jamie and I will understand.”
I shook my head. It wasn’t fair to them, and wasn’t my decision to make.
He didn’t say anything else for the rest of the drive. The cemetery that we entered had a special code lock for it to keep vandals out, especially on a night like tonight, Halloween, Samhain. That and the darkness often made people stupid.
The gate opened by itself, very high tech, and we passed through without incident. He steered us down the narrow road past above ground mausoleums that didn’t often decorate Minnesota cemeteries. But this wasn’t a normal cemetery; the walls surrounding it where fifteen feet tall, four feet wide, solid concrete, security guards with vicious dogs walked the ground carrying high powered rifles, and the decorative tombs where just another barrier.
We were checked by another guard who let us park and escorted us to a giant white mausoleum. It was plain other than the heavy-duty mental door that the guard had to open with a half dozen physical keys. “We’ve had no activity,” the man told me.
I just nodded. Kelly gave me a tight smile. “I’ll wait out here. Take as long as you need.”
Inside the tomb it really was just a set of four walls, one with a door, and a dirt floor. I knew the heavy concrete of the mausoleum went down several feet into the earth. The only way in or out was the door. That was all security, for him and for anyone who happened to be around when he finally did wake up.
The floor was dirt. This time of year it felt cold, but the ground recognized me. I could feel him down there, an almost foreign object to the subtle stillness to the earth. He was a misshapen pebble, in the grander flow of a river, that just seemed unwilling to move. The mound that once reminded me he was there had settled a little.
“Hey, Gabe,” I whispered to him opening the bond between us. As always I felt nothing, just that endless void that couldn’t tell me whether he was still there at all or not. “I miss you.”
I drew in the dirt, re-carving my name and his together in a heart. Then I added Mizuki and Sakura to the list. “Your babies need you. I need you. But I suppose you know that.”
Gabe was a vampire with more than two millennium of life lived. He’d warned me when we first met that sometimes things happened. Sometimes the pressure and memories became too much. I’d known only vaguely about Redouts, and what they were. I knew vampires could go to ground, sometimes for years, even centuries. I gulped at the thought of that.
I suppose I never thought that Gabe, who had always been a rock of strength and stability, would have to take a time out. He’d been prepared, as he was for most things, but only for a few weeks. Not the nearly six months he had already been gone. Accountants and lawyers came to me for decisions, all while I juggled two brand new babies, a fairly stressful job, and the responsibilities that came with being the Pillar of earth.
“It was really crappy timing you know,” I told him and sat down on my ass in the dirt, back to the wall. “You could have waited for the twins to be a few years old. Or maybe even out of college first.”
But it really wasn’t his choice either. I remembered the expression on his face that day, the pure blood lust that turned his eyes glowing red and skin ashen. In all our time together, he’d never shown me that side of himself. Sure I knew subconsciously it was there, all vampires had it, but Gabe just always seemed so human to me. I think that’s why it hurt more when he was suddenly staring at me without recognition, like I was food. I’d been so afraid, fearful for the twins that I’d taken them and left. When Jamie arrived later that day to tell me that Gabe had gone to ground, I’d shrugged it off, thinking it would only be for a few days at most. How stupid I was. I hadn’t even had the chance to say goodbye or tell him that I loved him.
“I wish I could at least hear you in my head. Feel your mind or something. Anything other than this endless silence.” We sat together for a while, and I remembered how he’d always massage my hands. Sometimes he’d just hold me for hours and neither of us would need to speak. If it weren’t so cold I might have been able to imagine him holding me.
“I saw Sam last week. He’s doing good. Happy, I think. Hart’s been taking good care of him in your absence. That was one thing you didn’t plan for.” I wondered if he’d gotten so comfortable with his life that he’d forgotten to change his plans when Sam had been brought over. I certainly couldn’t have mentored a new vampire for any length of time. If Max Hart hadn’t stepped in to offer sanctuary to Sam, the Tri-mega would have taken him. I didn’t want to think about what Tresler would have done. Sam had gone through enough crap in his short life.
I rose to my feet and dusted off my pants. “I have to get back to the twins. You should see them. They’re growing so fast.” I knocked on the door and it was opened by the guard who let me out. Kelly hugged me, and together we walked back to the car.
“I’m happy for you guys,” I finally told him when we were back on the road. “Excited for Mizu and Kura to have a new playmate.” Worried about the pressure that would put on Kelly who was in college fulltime, struggling through the magic studies program that I’d barely just survived. “Are you sure you’re ready for it though?” He was so young.
“Yeah.” Kelly reached over and grabbed my hand, squeezing it tightly. “I’ve had your babies as a trial run, you know. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having is. And I want you to know, Jamie and I have already said yes to moving in with Ally and Hanna. With all of us in one house, there will always be a babysitter available. Even if I just need some time out to do a term paper or something. I just feel like it’s time for our family to grow, and this baby will knit us closer together. Maybe even make the time go faster while we wait for Gabe. I miss him, too. Probably not like you do. But he was a friend. A good friend, and now there’s just this hole where he was.”
I stared out the window, not wanting to delve back into that pain. When I’d called one of the Tri-mega, Tresler, he’d said that vampires took more time based on their years, and since Gabe was over two millennia old, he could be out for years. Not good news for me. Facing being a permanent single dad was terrifying. I could give up full custody. Hanna and Ally could take them every other week or something. But did I really want the kids to be yoyos? No, I wanted them to have a stable home where they were loved no matter what. I guess that’s why the house really made sense. Of course Hanna would think of something like that, though I bet she had a lot of encouragement from Jamie, who was the king of bringing family together.
The house was mostly dark when we pulled into the drive. We’d been gone a little over three hours. I wondered if the babies were in bed. Had Hanna taken them trick or treating? Inside the house, we passed the dining room where the pumpkins still flickered, waiting for me to blow them out.
“Jamie’s downstairs in the new nursery with the babies,” Kelly said looking at his phone. He must have text him.
“I’m just going to blow out the candles. I’ll be right down.” I crossed the room and pulled the lid of my pumpkin and huffed a good breath to snuff the flame, then did the same for each of the smaller ones. A tiny thought to Gaea about the upcoming season and I was free to find my children. Kelly led me to the stairs, and I followed him down. Though the space was larger, it looked a lot like Gabe’s condo. The kitchen was bigger, and there were more doors leading off the main living space, but the layout and furniture were almost exactly the same.
Jamie stepped out of the third doorway on the right, easing the door shut behind him. Kelly moved passed me to hug him and deliver a kiss. I left them to it and went to check on my babies. The room was huge. Cribs on one end of the room just a few feet apart with a changing table in between, and on the other end was a king-sized bed. There was also an oversized walk-in closet, an attached bathroom with a giant glass shower and a separate Jacuzzi tub, and a door that lead off to the library. The anime picture of two men kissing that had been in Gabe’s condo, hung over the bed. I hadn’t been to Gabe’s place in months. It hurt too much, but having that picture made it suddenly feel like home.
I changed out of the costume and into some jammies before grabbing a brush and letting my hair down. It took about ten minutes to get all the leaves out, and then brush it smooth, but since I didn’t hear anything other than baby sighs from the other side of the room, I took my time. When I finished, I headed over to check on the twins. Kura was sound asleep, nook in her mouth, looking like the angel she could be. Mizu had his nook, and his eyes were sleepy, but open.
“Hey, peanut. You should be sleeping.” I rubbed his cheek gently with my finger. He grabbed at me like he wanted to be picked up, so I gently lifted him and carried him with me over to the plush armchair between the cribs and the bed. I rocked him for a while, watching those sleepy eyes grow heavier. Just before he dozed off, he reached one little hand up and caught a thick hank of my hair. I felt warmth tingle through my scalp, and suddenly a bunch of colorful leaves fell around us as though we were sitting under some giant oak.
I blinked down at my little boy, shock and wonder coursing through me all at once. The use of power had been so subtle I had barely felt it. Most children didn’t come into their power until puberty, many not until much later, which was why the levels testing was done in college. If Mizu could already pull leaves out of nowhere as easy as breathing, what did that mean for his power as he got older?
A moment of panic grabbed me. Equality among witches was still in the early stages. Sure men were being admitted to programs and tested, some even hired for Dominion work. But a newborn with Pillar level powers?
My mother would want him accosted deep into the Dominion, powers bound, hidden from the world at large lest he hurt someone. Even Hanna might believe that would be for the best. My powers hadn’t really started developing until I was in my late teens. It was likely the abuse Matthew had inflicted on me had delayed my development, but I couldn’t recall anything like this. My mother would have freaked and probably had me sacrificed “for the greater good.”
Kura would be treated as a princess, Mizu a leaper. Sweet Gaea how could this be so unfair? Could Kura do this stuff yet? Would she ever?
I could always bind Mizu’s powers myself, just temporarily. All the research I did for work had to be good for something. There was probably a spell that could bind them until puberty or maybe until he felt ready for them. But would that ever happen? Even now I could barely contain the power that flowed through me. Ever connected to the earth, it was a constant well of energy. What if I’d had since birth to control this? To learn about what I could do?
Gabe would encourage me to take this on and train Mizu. But I couldn’t be with him every second of the day. If my mom saw, or if Hanna saw, what then? He was too young to know that he should be hiding.
Hiding. I’d been doing that my whole life. That wasn’t something I wanted for my children. They shouldn’t have to live in fear. They should be free, happy, and accepted for who and what they are. Was I, or was I not the most powerful earth witch on the planet? Well, apparently not including my son. I sighed, brushed the leaves off, and continued to rock him gently.
A quiet knock came on the door before Jamie stepped inside. He glanced from the cribs to me in the chair and then blinked. His expression told me he was forming questions and answers in his head before he could think to speak them. When he eased himself onto the arm of the chair to look down at my sleeping son, there was a strong set to his jaw. He picked up a bright red leaf and twirled the stem between his fingers. “Mizu?”
I just nodded.
“What are we going to do?”
“He’s a baby first. My baby. And I am Pillar of earth.”
Jamie ran his fingers lightly over Mizu’s head, brushing the little red-gold curls that had begun to grow. “I don’t want him to have the childhood you did.”
“He won’t.” Of that I was adamant. I closed my eyes and pulled the earth in its ever sweeping motion over us, giving us peace, and settling my mind briefly in two worlds instead of one. Green fields and lush plants overlaid the room. A man with bright red hair and dark cinnamon-colored skin pushed through the brush, and then paused to bow before me.
“Master,” he said.
“Seiran,” I corrected him. “Bryar, I need you.”
He rose from his bow. “On my way.”
I shut down the other side, blinked away slightly blurry vision and glanced at my older brother who seemed to shake himself out of a dream.
“I’ve never been this close while you’ve done that before. How did you ever come back from there? It was so beautiful.”
But all I could do was smile at my sleeping baby. I’d seen them grown bigger than they were now, knew they would need me. No amount of offered peace could be enough to keep me from them.
A flash of red zipped across the room just seconds before the red haired man appeared before us.
“Hey, Bryar,” Jamie greeted him.
Bryar just nodded in acknowledgement. His normally wispy green clothes morphed into a pair of jeans and an oversized sweatshirt. I always marveled at the pure magic thing he was. So much more subtle than anything I could do and less destructive too, most of the time.
I got up from the chair to put Mizu back to bed. Once he was carefully set in his crib, blanket snuggled over him, I turned to them. “Bryar, I want you to care for Mizuki and Sakura. Train them. Help ease the transition of their powers.”
The man blinked his large cinnamon eyes at me, understanding coming almost instantly. “They have powers already?”
I motioned to the leaves that Jamie was scooping up into the garbage. “I think because he saw leaves in my hair earlier, when I took them out, he thought they should still be there.” He’d also watched me spend a lot of time putting leaves in my hair for dinner. Maybe that’s why they ended up all over in the van. Was he trying to help? A smile stretched across my face. My baby, I was so proud of him, not because he had power, but because he was beautiful, he was mine and he was already thinking of others. And Kura too, even if she never developed a lick of power, I’d love her more than I would any female in the world.
“Can you start training them already? Even this little?” I asked Bryar.
He shrugged, “Sure, we train our own babies from birth. Can’t be that much different for a human baby, right?”
“Just don’t take them through the veil please.” I might be able to waltz back and forth unharmed, but I knew the average person could go crazy just from a glimpse of the peace. Raw power was unpredictable at best, lethal at worst.
“Your little one may do that all by himself,” Bryar pointed out as he examined my kids in his very not human way. Bugs and fairies just had no personal space. “You want me to room here somewhere? There’s nothing green.”
“I can fix that,” Jamie said and disappeared through the doorway only to come back a minute later with a huge potted bonsai tree he’d been working on. “I’ll set up the light lamp later. But at least this way you can be close to the kids and still be comfortable.”
“Wow.” Bryar’s face split in a huge shit-eating grin that only he had mastered. And without any warning he was suddenly a ladybug. He crawled around the mossy rock/dirt mix that made up the bonsai’s soil.
I stared at my brother over the top of the plant. He carefully put set it up on the top of the armoire, out of reach of small grabby hands, and yanked me into a rib shattering hug. “We’re going to be fine. The kids will be fine. Everything will work out.”
“I know,” I told him. With or without Gabe I was going to be the best damn father I could be. Papa bear and mama bear all in one. I smiled, feeling a little giddy by the idea of showing my mom what else she couldn’t control. Perhaps the Rou legacy would change now. After all, the future never had brighter prospects than my beautiful twins.
Don't miss Ascendance, the fourth book in the Dominion series released from Dreamspinner Press on November 7. Ascendance