A dragon. A freaking dragon! Even
through her pounding heart, the artist in Sachi couldn’t help appreciating the creature’s beauty. It was enormous, reptilian, and winged, with gleaming obsidian scales tinged with flashes of electric blue. As it studied her, one of its forelegs began to stamp, making the timber fences on either side of the laneway rattle. Smoke furled out from its nostrils and when it stretched its wings Sachi gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. In the narrow laneway, it wasn’t able to expand its wings to their full span of what Sachi assumed had to be at least twenty metres, but instead flexed them upwards—a gesture Sachi was sure was meant for intimidation purposes. And it was working. She was completely frozen in place, her body ignoring every single one of the flight response commands being sent by her brain.The dragon folded its wings back down and began creeping toward Sachi, smoke billowing from its nostrils. As it got to about five metres away, it reared up and let out a burst of flame. Sachi just barely managed to duck before the flames passed over her head.Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god. I’m gonna be eaten by a dragon!She scampered back as far as she could get, knowing it wouldn’t be much good. What was she going to do? No one was home, and even if they were she wouldn’t want Nikko and Ella out here, it would be just as dangerous for them. Maybe she could call the fire brigade? At least they had flame retardant suits… Yeah, she could see that call right now:‘Triple zero, what’s your emergency?’‘A fucking dragon’s trying to kill me!’Yep, she’d probably be fined for wasting the valuable time and resources of Melbourne’s emergency services. And then the phone call would end up on one of those reality shows: World’s Craziest Emercency Calls. So, triple zero wasn’t an option. She was going to die, burnt to a crisp by this dragon, and on her tombstone it would say She shouldn’t have opened the gate.The dragon reared up for another attack, but it never came. Instead, a familiar figure appeared out of the shadows, brandishing a sword and beating the dragon back, away from Sachi.Sachi watched, awestruck, as Griffin gracefully dodged and ducked the dragon’s fire and weaved around its snapping jaws and thrashing claws before finally thrusting his sword through its stomach. The dragon reared up with an agonised roar and Griffin yanked the sword out, only to thrust it in once more, this time through the dragon’s heart. The creature slumped to the ground with a thud that merited a Richter scale reading.Griffin spun around to face Sachi, looking like a freaking knight. He was wearing that cape thing again, and now she was seeing him up close she could tell the black long-sleeved top she’d seen him in that first night at The Veil was actually made out of gleaming onyx chainmail. It was all very medieval-chic.‘Good thing it was only a baby,’ he said.‘That’s a baby?’ Sachi squeaked.‘Ay—near grown, yes, but still a hatchling. An adult would not have hesitated to kill you, love. Not very fond of humans, dragons.’‘W-why?’‘On account of all the hunting—your Saint George and his ilk nearly drove them to extinction.’Sachi had never considered the situation like that. Of course, up until twenty minutes ago she hadn’t even known dragons were real, but now that she did she found she was sorry this one was dead. Naturally, in a choice between her lifeand the dragon’s she would choose her own, but nevertheless, she was sorry.She looked at the dragon’s body, with those beautiful obsidian scales. ‘It sounds stupid, but I kinda wish you hadn’t killed it.’‘I didn’t.’Sachi snapped her gaze back to Griffin to find him studying her curiously, sword hanging by his side in a loose grip. It was an interesting weapon: thin and slightly curved. It looked like it had been stolen from Jack Sparrow. ‘What?’‘Only two things can kill a creature of The Shadowlands—Celestial fire and beheading. The blow to his heart has stunned him, however, so we have a few moments.’Sachi’s head was spinning. ‘A few moments for what?’He ran his eyes carefully over her face. ‘Do you trust me, love?’Well, that was a loaded question if she’d ever heard one. He had saved her life, yes, but something about him warned her to stay on her guard. After considering the situation, she shook her head. ‘I’m grateful you saved my life and everything, but no, sorry, I don’t trust you.’Griffin’seyes flashed, the corner of his mouth turning up with amusement. ‘Smart girl.’And then all Sachi could feel was a cold, icy fire as Griffin’s sword tore through
her chest, burying itself in her heart.
Several of the characters from Out of the Shadows have kindly agreed to fill out a short character questionnaire. Here are their answers:
Name: Sachi Manning…. oh, are we not doing last names? Oh, okay. Sachi’s fine.
Date of Birth: December 12, 1998 Melbourne, Australia
Date of Death: Which one?
Height: Fun-sized! Otherwise known as five foot nothing.
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown—booorrrriiinnngggg
Occupation: Waitress at the Riverside Tavern—you want the best coffee in Melbourne? That’s where you need to go!
Nicknames: Shorty, Short Stuff etcetera—all very original as you can see.
Best Friend: Gabe. I don’t care if he’s been turned into a soul-sucking monster, he’s still my best friend. I mean, would you abandon your best friend just because his favourite snack is no longer a McDonald’s Big Mac? I didn’t think so!
Favourite Quote: ‘Do or do not, there is no try’ – Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Theme song: Definitely Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine—it’s my ringtone.
*Author’s note: The Riverside Tavern doesn’t actually exist—don’t go there looking for coffee
Date of Birth: January 24, 1856 Herefordshire, England
Date of Death: October 11, 1876 London, England
Hair Colour: Dark blonde
Eye Colour: Grey
Occupation: Reaper for The Order of Dark and Light, Tracker Tier
Nicknames: Moss calls me Jules—presumably because he knows I don’t like it.
Best Friend: Moss, although he’s more like a brother than a friend.
Favourite Quote: ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall’ – Measure for Measure
Theme song: Well, I prefer classical music but Ashlee assigned me Demons by Imagine Dragons. Moss played it for me and now I feel as though Ashlee doesn’t care for me all that much. Although, perhaps given the amount of physical abuse I was made to endure during the first book that should have been obvious.
Date of Birth: July 1, 1857 Manhattan, New York
Date of Death: October 12,1876 Manhattan, New York
Hair Colour: Dark brown
Eye Colour: Green
Occupation: Praetor—the most elite of all The Order’s Reapers. Of course.
Nicknames: Tell me, do I look like the kind of person who would have a nickname?
Best Friend: Any kind of attachment, such as friendship is just another weakness for an enemy to exploit.
Favourite Quote: ‘Even Death has a heart’ – The Book Thief
Theme song: Apparently it is Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional. Read into that what you will.
Date of Birth: May 5, 1742 Rural Russia
Date of Death: August 18, 1764 Paris, France
Hair Colour: Chestnut brown
Eye Colour: Brown
Occupation: I suppose you could call me ‘self-employed’
Nicknames: Mira is a nickname of sorts.
Best Friend: I left all my friends behind when I ran from The Order. Everyone except Maxx…
Favourite Quote: ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Theme song: First by Cold War Kids
Date of Birth: February 4, 1973 Palm Beach, Florida
Date of Death: February 8, 1994 Lake Tahoe, California
Height: Right on six foot
Hair Colour: Got some kick-ass blonde dreads happenin’
Eye Colour: Blue
Occupation: One of the best Trackers in The Order
Nicknames: Moss is a nickname—I could tell you my real name but then I’d have to kill you. No, seriously—no one’s ever getting that outta me.
Best Friend: Jules
Favourite Quote: ‘You win or you die’ – Game of Thrones
Theme song: Well, Ashlee said she was gonna let me choose my own song, so I went with More Than a Feeling by Boston. Then she just changed her mind on me—I mean, what sort of writer does that to her characters? So now it’s Clocks by Coldplay and I’ve gotta say, that doesn’t exactly give me the warm and fuzzies.
Date of Birth: May 4, 1995 Richmond, Virginia
Date of Death: Well, despite what they’ve said on the TV I’m not actually dead.
Height: A bit under six foot—not even an inch. A centimetre maybe. Let’s just say six foot, hmm?
Hair Colour: It’s kinda a sandy blondy brown
Eye Colour: Blue
Occupation: That’s classified
Nicknames: I can’t imagine any nicknames from my former life would be relevant now
Best Friend: All my friends think I’m dead. Thanks for bringing that up again
Favourite Quote: ‘Yippee ki yay, mother f***er’ – Die Hard. Wait…am I allowed to say f***?
Theme song: Who the hell has their own theme song?…
…O-kay, apparently I do. It’s Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. Is it just me or are all these theme songs ridiculously dramatic?