The Soul Mender
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 1
by R.S. Dabney Genre: Urban Fantasy
In a wild escape to avoid becoming the sixth victim of the elusive Rocky Mountain Murderer, twenty-two-year-old Riley Dale finds herself flung into a universe parallel to her own, where Las Vegas is known for its churches, terrorist attacks are initiated by the United States, and peace can be found in the darkest corners of the globe.
As the deadly visions that have haunted her since childhood become real, Riley is confronted with the implausible story of a world split in two and the stark contrast between good and evil in people she thought she knew.
Racing deeper into the mystery of the new world, Riley discovers the explosive truth about her ancestors who have been hunted for thousands of years because of a single mistake made long ago.
And now it’s her turn to pay for that blunder.
Pursued by both the government and a clandestine sect of assassins, Riley must ally with the only people in the parallel universe willing to keep her safe—the drug-addicted, prostituting other half of her soul, and the counter soul of a man who tortured and killed five young women.
Discover new worlds in this Kirkus Star Awarded (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rs-dabney/the-soul-mender/ ) book that is being called "not only highly entertaining, but profoundly edifying!"
Dark hair swirled around the faces of two figures looking down on the lights of a city far below. They stood motionless on a precipice, unmoved by the wind and pelting rain. Sharp daggers, gilded and set with precious stones, hung from scabbards hidden beneath long coats that billowed with each gust.
“Does she know?” the smaller one asked, heavy-lidded eyes focused on the distant horizon.
“The old woman is afraid. She wants to protect her, but she knows what is at stake,” the taller man replied. Golden rays flecked his eyes, mirroring a sun that had yet to show its face.
“The Germans know where she hides,” the first said in a heavily accented voice. “She will be dead within a fortnight. She may die before the secret can be passed on.”
The tall man’s eyes flashed, but his face remained stoic. “The woman is afraid, but she is not a fool. She will alert the girl in some way.”
Gazing toward an unknown future, their silent stares vanished into the roaring sky. “It won’t be easy this time. The world is gearing up for war, and they know this is their last chance. They’ll be desperate,” the short man said.
The tall figure nodded and turned, his trench coat fluttering.
“What now, Emir?” the man at the ledge asked.
“We wait,” the man called Emir replied, disappearing into the darkness. “We wait until Riley Dale decides whether or not she values her life.”
The Peace Keeper
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 2
Safe in her own world, Riley Dale should finally be able to put the horrifying experience in the parallel universe behind her. But as she processes recent events, business as usual is not an option. Her allies are still in big trouble.
To rescue her friends, Riley ventures back into the parallel world she had tried so hard to escape from. As her path winds through a maze of twisted history and familial legend, she finds herself blocked by both her attitude and insecurities, as well as by her enemies.
And those enemies are becoming desperate.
As each version of the world and her opponents grow more volatile, Riley must cast aside her own weakness and accept the mantle of Electa if she can ever hope to save humanity from a devastating end.
Tick, tick, tick. What must have been a clock counted away precious seconds with a jarring noise, as if the long arm of time scraped in slow motion like nails on a chalkboard. Shapeless shapes and hazy clouds morphed and changed colors in her mind with each excruciating tick. But she remained frozen.
Occasionally, a new form emerged, a humanlike silhouette that hovered close and danced for a moment in the world between sanity and whatever muted fog she’d entered. Then came the darkness and the tick, tick, tick.
Finally, a day came when the shapes formed outlines, and the colors remained static and sharp. The ticking sound blended into the rest of the waking world, overshadowed by chirping birds and wind pressing through an open window. Welcome sounds. Soft sounds. And the wavering human outline appeared, and this time he had a face and didn’t bring with him a new cycle of
darkness and harsh noises.
Riley Dale stared up at the man, aware for the first time of her own body lying on an old brass bed. A sticky cloth bandaged her head, and her arm was wrapped in iodine-stained gauze. A temporary brace held one leg secure as mysterious blue liquid dripped into her veins through an IV attached to her arm. She coughed, hacking up green bile and pink clumps that she prayed weren’t pieces of lung. The man held out a bowl, and she spit.
“Welcome back.” The old man stood by the bed, looking tired and wan. She searched each wrinkle on his face, studying the way his jaw tightened and unclenched, noting that any signs of age were intentionally misleading, not a true indication of strength or ability. Her mind flashed back to the night she’d staggered to his porch and asked for help. She’d told him everything, and he’d confirmed that he was indeed her grandmother’s Custos.
Michael Flynn stared down at her sympathetically, removing the bandages from her head and forearm.
“How long was I out?” she asked.
“A week.” He wiped the wounds clean and applied a fresh coat of antibiotic ointment. “You needed to heal.”
She tried to sit upright but felt weak and dizzy. Her head raced, and her leg still throbbed, but the physical pain was insignificant compared to the anguish of wasting a week doing nothing.
Resting her head back onto the pillow, she let out a slow breath and nodded at the leg. “Is it broken?”
“No. The bone was bruised but intact. Once you feel strong again, you won’t have a problem walking.”
Riley sighed and peered out the window. Leaves rustled in the breeze, and for a moment she felt comfort knowing she was back in her world. But then Ezra’s determined stare and Oz’s angry scowl flashed through her mind as she recalled the SUV plummeting into danger to save her life.
And all she’d done to assist was lie in bed.
“I have to help them.” She pushed herself into a seated position and met Michael’s eyes. They seemed to burn with a new intensity, as though the smoldering amber coals had finally found enough oxygen to burst into flames.
“Yes.” He nodded. “You do. But you couldn’t have accomplished anything in your former condition. You are stronger now.”
Riley touched the spot on her forehead where she’d hit the dresser when the bad half of Zachary Stone had tried to kill her. No more oozing, pus-filled laceration—just a clean patch of scarred flesh. She caught a glimpse of Michael’s concerned stare but kept her gaze on the bedsheets. His eyes carried too many terrible thoughts. Too many excruciating conclusions. Gabe. Pain clenched in her stomach.
“Have you heard from him?” she asked.
Michael dabbed a wet cloth to her forehead and handed her a small pill. “He hasn’t checked in yet. I’m sorry, Riley. Gabe is strong. He always finds a way out.”
Riley swallowed the medicine, fighting tears. “Do my parents know I’m here?”
“Not yet. I thought you should recover first before deciding if you want to bring them into this. If you really mean to save your friends and complete your mission, you will have to disappear. They would lose you all over again. That decision is yours to make, not mine.”
Almost immediately, Riley felt her lids growing heavy from the medication in her system. Never mind the weight of the task—really the weight of the world --resting on her shoulders if she chose to be the Electa. Michael Flynn pressed a comforting hand on hers before he slipped from the room. She drifted back into the unconscious world, thinking only of her friends and all the people who needed to be saved.
The World Binder
The Soul Mender Trilogy Book 3
Riley’s allies are scattered, broken, or dead. In one universe, an army stands ready to destroy the East. In the other, a biological weapon threatens to wipe out the West. Despite the looming devastation, she is no closer to restoring balance to humanity.
As Riley trains to use the ring her grandmother left her and works to find a way to bind the worlds, terrifying new visions plague her. Unearthed betrayals lead Riley to painful truths and hopeless revelations about those she thought she could trust.
Even about people she loves.
As her enemies circle and her friends falter, Riley must race to find answers lost to ancient memory in the sands surrounding what was once the Garden of Eden. Healing the world may demand she sacrifice all she holds dear—even her own chance to witness the peace she’s fought so hard for.
Disguised in the signature black robe of the ancient assassin clan, Gabriel Hart pulled his hood lower around his face and remained still. Dread, dark as the robes and minds of the men surrounding him, pumped through his veins. Cheers that mutated into a low chanting erupted from the crowd, bouncing back and forth against the rock walls of the Jondi-Al-Haqq’s underground chamber.
Behind Emir, the leader of this clandestine group, the multitude parted as blackclad assassins came forward, dragging two frightened prisoners.
Abigail Weaver’s dark skin lay shrunken against her emaciated body. Her eyes were hollowed-out orbs of fear. Months of torment and neglect hung on her like a shroud. Kiersten Dale appeared less gaunt, having been a more recent capture. Her blond hair lay tangled across her face. Splotches of dirt accented her cheeks. Raw terror radiated from her being, but she was still alert. Riley’s sister and her best friend. Gabe swallowed and took a step forward, knowing what their deaths would mean in the scope of this great mission. The assassins strung the young women up on the posts and began pouring oil over the wood at their feet. Silent tears fell from Abby’s vacant eyes, and for a
moment, Gabe felt them fall upon him. He looked back at her through the secrecy of his hood. The chanting grew louder.
“Abigail Weaver and Kiersten Dale, you will die today because of your friend and sister’s unwillingness to save you. Riley Dale was given the opportunity to turn herself over and take your places, but she refused that offer. It is not us who kill you today but the cowardice of your loved one. Your hate and anger are just. You two do not deserve death, but Riley has forced our hand. Direct these last moments of anger at the real one who has failed you. Godspeed to you both into whatever afterlife awaits you.”
A pair of assassins emerged from the chanting crowd, each carrying a flaming torch. As they walked to the center of the room, Gabe closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and prayed for strength beyond what he’d ever mustered in his long life.
“You? It can’t be. You Judas son of a bitch. You betrayed her.”
Gabe’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the familiar voice. He spun his gaze to the side and there she was: Riley Dale, or at least some version of her, storming forward. Rage and terror etched the creases of her face. Her golden brown hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail. Fury swirled in her green eyes.
He recognized one of the torchbearers and felt matching anger erupt through his body. Tariq Zaman, one of their good friends, turned his back on Riley and touched the impatient flame of his torch to the waiting oil. Fire erupted across the wood. The screams of the girls twisted with the smoke into the air.
Riley sprinted toward Tariq, but as she jumped to attack him, Gabe flung his body forward, knocking her to the stone floor. Her head slammed into the ground, and as her image faded from sight, he locked eyes with her, hoping she caught his pleading stare before she vanished. For a split second, he gazed at the floor, but the piercing shrieks of the two girls yanked him back to the present. The time to think had passed. Gabe shut his eyes and materialized at the base of Kiersten’s pyre, grimacing as flames lapped onto his own robe and clawed hungrily at the flesh around his ankles. He grabbed Kiersten’s hands and in an instant transported her from the hot breath of death’s mouth to a vacant spot behind of the crowd of assassins.
The room fell silent, except for a few startled inhalations. Hooded faces stared at the empty stake in the center of the room where the black-robed figure touched by flames had just snatched their prisoner before disappearing. As fire licked higher up Gabe’s robes, he closed his eyes and reappeared next to the second stake, grabbing Abby’s gaunt hands and vanishing again, only to
reappear on the far edge of the cavern, far from where he had left Riley’s sister. By now his entire robe was ablaze, and he threw it from his body, scattering the closest group of men. His white undershirt clung to his skin, soaked through with perspiration. Charred holes and flaps of fabric adorned his pants. Burns needled the flesh on his lower limbs. He winced.
“Gabe?” Abby’s question came out in a dazed whisper.
“Stay down. I’ll be back.” He shoved her to the ground and then disappeared as the first dagger flew, zinging through the emptiness he’d just vacated to clatter off the stone wall. As Gabe reemerged next to Riley’s terrified sister, he felt something tear across the flesh of his back. Grabbing Kiersten’s hands, he transported her up into the main entryway of the Jondi mansion, far above ground. He left Kiersten in the empty foyer and reentered the chamber below, where he’d left Riley’s best friend. She was nowhere to be seen.
Desperately searching for Abby, Gabe ducked and rolled as more daggers flew. He heard Emir’s booming voice echoing to “kill the Custos.” Exhausted, Gabe’s mind flashed back to many years before when a mob of black had rained down upon him—black so heavy, it reduced him to nothingness. Not the time for memory lane.
He darted as the nearest assassin slashed at his abdomen. Twisting toward the edge of the cavern, Gabe spotted her. Despite months of captivity, Abby had found the strength to crawl along the edge of the wall, trying to avoid detection. And it seemed to be working, as every other pair of eyes was trained malevolently on Gabriel Hart.
Thinking of Kiersten alone in the hall above, Gabe offered a silent curse in his head to the man who was supposed to be protecting her. If you’re not already dead, Raphael, I’ll kill you when I get out of here. Another dagger found his flesh, this time at the back of his calf. He let out a frustrated grunt and then reappeared next to Abby’s retreating form. He grabbed onto her as she let out her own scream of pain, and focused on the entryway above.
He’d been gone too long. Beneath the towering ceiling and marbled columns, two assassins stood with Kiersten between them, one with a dagger to her throat, the other with his dagger across her abdomen. Gabe held a wounded Abby, who clutched at the place in her ribs where red was spreading like an unwelcome rash. His heart pounded as blood pumped from his own wounds. “You may save that girl,” one of the men said in his thick Arabic accent.
“But we will kill the other. As soon as you vanish to come for her, our blades will move as well. Either way, this is the end for Riley Dale. You have failed, Custos. Once again, you have failed.”
Gabe set Abby gently on the floor, trying desperately to formulate a plan that ended in Kiersten reuniting with her sister. But exhaustion clouded his brain. Everything was just a little out of focus.
“Gabe,” Kiersten said, her green eyes sparkling with tears. “Save Abby. Please. I will be okay, but don’t let anything happen to her.”
“Riley will never forgive me.” Gabe’s heart tightened at Kiersten’s composure and bravery, and at the notion that even if he rescued one of these two girls, Riley would forever blame him for the loss of the other.
“Gabe.” This time Kiersten’s voice was higher, more urgent. “They’re coming. Get Abby out now!”
He spun around as what looked like a colony of rabid bats hurtled toward them from the hallway. Black fabric billowed in a deadly storm of assassins. Gabe bent down, picked up Abby, and turned a solemn face toward Kiersten.
Their eyes met. He felt his own grow large. A figure appeared behind Kiersten and the two assassins, simultaneously plunging a knife through each of her captor’s throats. The daggers aimed at Riley’s sister clattered to the ground as the men holding them fell to their knees.
Gabe felt rage and relief as the newcomer grabbed Kiersten. But before he could act, the angry mob had reached his position and buried another dagger into his flesh. Gabe slammed his eyes shut, held Abby tightly, and focused on the Sham Al Basra hotel, praying Ezra would be waiting in the room, ready to help.
Debut author R.S. Dabney’s passion for reading, writing, and exploring thrilling stories about unlikely heroes conquering evil started at a young age, culminating in the completion of her first novel, The Soul Mender, book one in The Soul Mender Trilogy. Her favorite books span every genre and she likes to describe her own work as having something for everyone—a sprinkle of suspense, a dash of adventure, and a whole lot of good versus evil.
R.S. grew up running around the red rocks and ravines in the deserts of southern Utah, building forts, fighting battles, and living the lives of all the characters she and her friends created. An avid lover of all things nature and the outdoors, R.S. attended Texas A&M University where she majored in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and minored in Park and Natural Resource Management. She worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for three years before leaving to pursue her dream of writing a novel.
She currently lives in the Big Bend region of Texas with her husband, two dogs, and cat. When she isn’t lost in another dimension creating havoc for her characters and stories, she enjoys mountain biking, exploring the desert, and eating way too much Mexican food.