Posts Tagged ‘author’

The grey skies of Westcliff were fitting for its rugged and harsh landscape. It was a cold, windy island were it rained frequently. Upon a large hill, at the highest point on the island stood a manor house, viewed with awe and respect. Therein lived the Crusow family. No one on the island spoke of it but the Crusow patriarch – Samuel Crusow – had amassed a great deal of power within the community. Samuel had one daughter. His sons were long gone. Emily Crusow had been walking the halls, carrying a child in her arms, sobbing for so long that the very stone of the building was beginning to vibrate with her grief. She had managed to keep the father of her child secret for the first few months of her son’s life. She should have known she couldn’t have kept him hidden forever.

Her father had been summoned by the jingling of bells as servants began to lay the long table for two. Samuel Crusow sat himself at the usual spot at the head of the table. A plate of thick broth was placed under his nose. Samuel immediately set about breaking bread. He had built up quite a hunger that day as it happened.

Will you stop with that incessant crying!” he barked at his daughter. Bread crumbs fell onto his full auburn beard.

Please, just let me and my baby go,” cried Emily. “We are no use to you now.”

Samuel smiled with a mouth full. He swallowed the masticated bread and replied, “Even if the little boy is a half breed, he can still be of use. He bares my name and bares my blood. He could find himself at the very top of our food chain if he is raised correctly. He has the chance here to become a great leader. He could have everything he could want and yet you wanted to take him away so he could starve and fade away like the rest them? You lost all chance of being his mother when you made that decision. When he is finished nursing you can go and join the rest of them on the ash heap but the boy stays.”

One of the maids who was most sympathetic to Emily’s plight tried to urge her to sit at the table. Emily pulled her baby closer to her. “You have to eat something,” groaned Samuel as he turned his attention to a newspaper one of the maids had left for him. “It’s not good for the baby.”

In the cover of darkness, in the silence of the night, Emily carried her baby away from the only home she had ever known, the monstrous building she had only just seen the outside of. A small fishing boat was waiting for her on the coast. She had to hurry. Her father’s reach was long and far. She didn’t know who she could trust. Her life had been dominated by ‘The Group’. Until she met Perry – a simple fisherman – she couldn’t conceive of a life outside the group. She didn’t wish for her son to suffer the same. With the help of some of the staff she managed to reach the outside. She didn’t shy away from the cutting wind, she embraced it. For Emily it meant freedom.

Where are you going?” Tawny McInney had been watching the Crusow house for most of the night. She had been meticulously noting in her mind the changes in lighting through the windows and any shadows moving behind the curtains. Her face was reddened and weather beaten. Her mass of mousey brown curls were hidden beneath a hood.

Please don’t hurt Sam,” Emily cried, knowing that pleading with Tawny wouldn’t do her much good.

Tawny leaned over and moved the sheets that the baby was wrapped in away from his face. He was fast asleep. He smacked his lips and turned towards the heat of his mother. “Your father is shuddering under the weight of ‘The Group’. He has lost touch with the principals we were founded on.”

Emily looked towards the water edge where Perry’s brother, Peter, was waiting to take her to the mainland and to safety. “I have to go,” said she. “I have to get away from my father before he hurts Sam or hurts me.”

Tawny had never been much of a sympathetic woman. In ‘The Group’ she was probably the most blood thirsty, even more so than Samuel. Something was brewing. ‘The Group’ had been questioning Samuel Crusow’s leadership. Tawny would be the one to step forward and take his place.

The Group is about to change in terrible and glorious ways. You do not want to be caught in the middle. Take your child to the safety of the mainland. Care for him. Perhaps one day when he is a man we will call upon him.”

To allow Sam to fall into the hands of Tawny and the other’s was a worse fate than anything Samuel would have in store. However, Tawny was offering her something that Emily didn’t have – time. Emily’s immediate concern was getting Sam away from the island. He could grow up away from ‘The Group’. Maybe they would find him one day but in the meantime taking him to the city was the best chance Sam would have. There in Coldford no one had yet heard the name, Samuel Crusow.

***

So my grandfather was a lunatic and he began this group who felt they were so above the rest of humanity that they could kill for whatever reason they felt necessary?” I said, probably sounding a little more concise in my head than the nonsense that escaped my lips.

Tabitha leaned back against the bar. She had long finished her tall glass of gin and soda. I was still nursing the whiskey in my hand, having held it so long it was warm.

That’s a rather crude way of putting it but that is the gist. Although, I must profess, your grandfather wasn’t a lunatic. He was a great man but he had lost his way. In the midst of the first great depression the islands were a harsh place to live. There were three prominent families – yours and mine included. Your grandfather saw to it that the worthy ones were provided for. Space, money and even blood and flesh had to be taken from the lowers otherwise the worthy ones would suffer and the lowers would feast on them like parasites.”

That is awful!” I exclaimed.

Tabitha laughed. “Well listen to the righteous man with the Crusow name.” She shook her head. “This was at a time when there was no trade to the island, the land couldn’t be cultivated and there were far too many mouths to feed. Something had to be done. The lowers were dying at a rapid rate anyway and if left unchecked they would have brought everyone down with them. They were going to die anyway but their lives didn’t have to be in vain. Like cattle raised for the slaughter they helped provide food, shelter and provisions for the worthy ones. Life could go on much as it had before.”

So what does that have to do with me?” I asked, trying to comprehend how I fit into it all now.

Tabitha tipped her glass over and began to roll it on its edge. “Well you are the key to it all. You are the last remaining Crusow. One of the founding members. That is a pretty important role don’t you think? My aunt was right to let your mother leave with you. In doing that ‘The Group’ managed to grow from some miserable little island cult to something much grander. When your mother had a child with one of the lowers it caused the members to look at how things were run, how it was decided who was lower and who was worthy in the first place. It was dangerous to keep you around, my aunt saw that but your grandfather didn’t.”

Where is my grandfather now? Is he still alive?”

Tabitha stopped fidgeting with her glass and stood it back upright. “When your mother escaped a sort of civil war was born within ‘The Group’. My aunt and your grandfather made for pretty powerful allies. They both still believed that those of lesser importance should be sacrificed for the benefit of those in authority. Samuel’s blood had mixed with that of the lowers when you were born. Some didn’t like that. Whilst the others bickered over the purity of ‘The Group’ my aunt set about restoring it to its former glory. My family followed you to Coldford. My aunt had promised your mother that she would find you. When she came to Coldford she saw the corruption in high places, like your mayor friend, the miserable wretches that swamped the streets. She had only just bought the club and cemented herself in Coldford society when she died and the second depression hit. Some of ‘The Group’ followed my aunt and thrived in the city. Others stayed behind with your grandfather and died out.”

The weight of grief began to press down on me again as I considered the scale of the situation I was in. “My wife is dead because of this. Theresa had nothing to do with any of this.”

Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “I’m genuinely sorry for what happened to Theresa. It was not our doing. There are still some out there who don’t like the idea of ‘The Group’ being led by a man who was sired by a fisherman. Theresa’s murder was a warning.”

Where does the mayor come in?” I had pondered the question constantly from the moment Dennis pulled a gun to the mayor’s head.

Mayor Feltz was a stupid man. His wife had used her connections with ‘The Group’ to gain political office. He then treated his wife and child terribly. The aid we gave him in getting his job was in the understanding that we would have influence in his office. He wasn’t willing to share. He felt that now he was mayor he could get away with anything. No one is above ‘The Group’.”

How have you managed to get away with this for so long?”

It’s very simple really,” she answered. “If you approach someone in power and tell them they have the right to decide the fates of those lower than them they tend to jump at the opportunity. Flattery is a very powerful tool. When that fails there is always good old fashioned threat of violence.”

I knew then that it was never going to be so easy as to walk out the door of the ‘knock, knock’ club and leave all this behind. They had people everywhere and now they were trying to make me their leader because I had the same name as the man crazy enough to begin it all in the first place. I asked myself again, not for the last time … what had I gotten myself into?

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Catch up from the beginning:

Knock, Knock (Episode 1): Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock (episode 2): Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock (Episode 3): Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock (Episode 4): Take A Bow

torrance global heading

AN INSIGHT INTO THE ANTI MAKRI INTELLIGENCE AGENCY; COMBATING MAKRI SMUGGLING RINGS

They say the world is becoming a smaller place each day. This rings true in the ears of our Anti Marki Intelligence agents who are currently fighting a war on human trafficking. A lesser known agency until recently, they are a small group of officials who are specialised in combating the Makri group – a global concern with widespread members through many different countries. With origins in New Zealand, the Makri spread from the Southern Hemisphere to Asia, from Asia they moved east across Europe. Finally they found settlement in Mexico and certain other parts of South America. The Makri are funded by trafficking of guns, drugs and young girls.

The Anti Marki Intelligence Agency was set up to wage war against the Makri. With support from the United States, England, Caledonia, Japan, Germany and France the success of the AMIA has been remarkable.

Chairman, Jurgen Kiertrich, stated, “We have seen a significant reduction in the amount of trafficking in the past few months. Several Makri cells have been closed down thanks to the effort of our agents.”

With success being declared in Europe, South America has a different view. A former Makri member, Antonio (name changed to protect identity), told us, “They may think they have closed the Makri cells down but for every one they stop another three will replace it.”

Antonio fled from the Makri after having spent ten years in Mexico as part of a drug cartel ring. Questions arose over the financial mismanagement of his group. Falling into debt Antonio’s family were threatened, forcing him to cross the border to the United States and seek refuge. He is currently under the protection of the AMIA.

Antonio’s story is a small piece of the fear that the Makri have caused. We met a girl by the name of Analice, a former call girl for the Makri. She was taken from her home in Ukraine. Her then partner, Kris Markoso, had promised her a new life in the United States where she would receive an education and fulfil her ambition of becoming a school teacher. Analice left her home, selling everything she owned for the venture and departed Ukraine in the middle of the night aboard a ship bound east.

I was told that I was going aboard Liberty,” Analice told us. “I had heard so much about the ship. I was excited.”

However, Analice was not taken aboard Liberty (A ship that was custom built for the purposes of safe travel for refugees by King Fasio Sanchez of Spain). Instead she and twenty other girls were taken aboard a small fishing vessel. Her journey ended in Mexico. She never saw Kris again. Instead of an education Analice was forced into prostitution to pay for her keep in the slums of Mexico City. She and the other girls being told that the harder they worked and the more money they earned the more luxury they would receive. Analice assured us that this was true for most of the girls. Some were taken to exclusive villas and showered with gifts. Others were left alone to fight a growing drug addiction.

The AMIA have heard thousands of stories similar to that of Analice. Each day they re-home and protect thousands of girls – some as young as eight – from Makri forced labour.

Our job is just beginning to show fruit,” said Agent Kiertrich. “We have a much larger fight ahead of us.”

Vowing to end the Makri group within the next five years some argue that the intentions of the AMIA are ambitious. The Marki are like a virus having spread to the four corners of the world. There is no knowing how far their membership base has reached. The Makri claim to hold powerful figures as their members. AMIA are not deterred by this. With determination and a dedicated team they will end the tyranny.

A Torrance Global Exclusive

Written by Jaimya Van Hols

Adapted from Conflict: Global Crisis

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Coming soon as a graphic novel!

Location: Mexico

Leader: Mikel Arena

We See, We Take, We Grow

An underworld group that emerged from the ashes of the ‘Southern Hemisphere War’. Originating in New Zealand, the Makri flooded into Australia when Prime Minister Grimsby opened the gates to the Maori people who were subjected to brutal slaughters in their homeland. Undetected the Makri joined the refugees, spreading from Australia into Asia, Europe and eventually South America.

They are master smugglers and will not be stopped by any border. A specialist unit titled the Counter Marki Intelligence Agency (CMIA) was set up by government officials in United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan and Australia as a means to stop the spread.

It is said that the Makri are like a super virus that cannot be contained. Whilst steps can be made to reduce the number of their cells operating globally it will never be fully eradicated.

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CHARACTER PROFILE
Linciu Habaru
AGE: 38 –
NATION: Fosgon – full warrior.
WARRIOR NAME – ‘Blue Raven’
Son to Fosgon chief Tomatcu. During a depression on the Fosgon nation Linciu was approached by the US military. When Linciu first joined the marine core he faced massive racist attacks. On one occasion he was outnumbered by a group of fellow soldiers hell bent on running a what they referred to as a ‘shopper’ out of the core. The CCTV footage showed exactly why Linciu was regarded as one of the finest warriors of his nation. After hospitalising the group and walking away unharmed the footage was sent straight to Washington with a presidential stamp. Linciu was court marshalled and thrown in jail until a highly respected General by the name of Raphael Diorra requested that the warrior become part of the notorious Rogue Battalion. Under the watch of General Diorra, Linciu shot through the ranks to eventually becoming Commander of Rogue Battalion.
His fighting skills almost mirror Thai fighting with sharp reflexes and deadly moves to anyone who may oppose him.
He is a blue feather meaning ‘whisperer’. This displays his abilities to command numerous different species but most notably the raven. Many of his enemies fear the site of the raven believing that Linciu is stalking them. The most superstitious of enemies believe the raven carries the soul of the deadly warrior making him invincible.

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Rogue Group photo

President Philip Owen addressed the entire room. “Ladies and gentlemen make no mistake, we must all work together to stop this. You may not have wanted to be involved with the problems in Russia with the Yugasov but we have been left with no choice.”

Alex Grimsby leaned forward clasping his hands tightly together. “What do you propose we do?”

President Owen replied “I am sending a covert team to Minsk. They will need all the help they can get. I need to know that you would be willing to support me in uncovering what is happening there and stop it. They will have orders to retrieve known war criminal, Andrei Borkov, at the same time.”

Selena, who sat quietly throughout, finally spoke up. “Mr President, I’m not sure what help I can be,” she said. “I’m haven’t been sworn into office yet. I don’t have any real authority.”

I know I can rely on you to gain Lord Isle’s support until your official election.”

So who is this team you are sending?” asked Ada.

Philip Owen lifted himself onto his feet and made his way to the long side of the table. “You have all heard of Rogue Battalion?”

Prime Minister Grimsby seemed dismayed. “Sending Rogue Battalion? Is that necessary for a fact finding mission?”

I am only sending a small number led by General Raphael Diorra. He is the only man I would trust to get the job done,” the U.S. President explained.

Chancellor Gultrich leaned back in her chair. “If you want me to get involved then I should know who this team will consist of.”

Philip Owen lifted a controller from the table and with a push of the red button; an image of a young soldier flashed onto the screen. “First we have Lewis Bakersmith AKA Baker. He normally spends his leave with his family in Ohio. A team has been dispatched with his orders. They will be waiting on him. He is the finest navigator the United States has to offer. If anyone can find their way through Minsk, it is this man.” Baker wasn’t quite what many would assume as a soldier. He was very tall and slim. Thick rimmed spectacles hung on the end of his long nose. President Owen pushed the button again. This time the screen showed a handsome young Hispanic man with a wealth of experience. “Carlos Pablo Guerra AKA Carlos. He was sent to a military academy at thirteen to keep him out of trouble. That was great for us because now he is the best sharpshooter we have, and he will watch over the rest of the team loyally. A team is preparing to head out to his home in New York to bring him in.” Another flick of the button changed the screen to show a large man with a body builder physique. “Martin Murdoch AKA Bait. He is currently serving time in a secure facility.”

Selena stopped him. “This man is a convict? What did he do?”

He was arrested five years ago for assaulting someone who was being a little rough and over eager with his wife. The police came in heavy handed, knowing that he was Rogue Battalion. Three of them ended up in the hospital trying to restrain him, one in a coma. Because of his background they had to punish him harshly but he is released from prison when special assignments call.”

You trust this man with this mission? Is that wise?” Louis put to the president.

There is no knowing what they are going to find there,” said Philip. “We need men of strength. Besides if anyone can keep him in line, Raphael Diorra can.” The screen flicked again. This time, the screen showed a broad Jewish man with pale skin and neat black hair. “Howard Noah Goldman AKA Noah. He is fluent in five languages including Russian. He will be invaluable to the team in communications. He normally lives with his mother in Florida. Word has been left with her for him to be in contact.” The screen slid once again, now to show a fair haired, sallow skinned man. “The team will be supported by an explosive expert. Henry Lafayette AKA Gator. Our boys had some trouble trying to get to his home through his Alligator farm in Louisiana but the word will be waiting for him,” President Owen paused for a moment to look at his notes. He pushed the button again, and the image was of a young black man. He was the only one so far to be smiling. He appeared intelligent and strong. “Medical support will be provided by a very promising young man. John Wayans AKA Wayne. He wasn’t with the team in San Mojo, but he knows General Diorra well. In fact he is a student of the General’s sister at Columbia medical school.” A smile came to Philip Owen’s lips as he read on. “We are all familiar with Captain William Davis. He will be joining them. He has been close friends with General Diorra for many years. There is no better man to assist him. However, it seems our boys were a little over eager to find him. He was on a fishing trip and wouldn’t turn back. It seems I owe him a salmon or two… and a boat.” President Owen had met Davis personally. It didn’t matter whose company he was in; Davis was always the same way. He was strong minded and loyal to Raphael. Philip couldn’t help but laugh when he received an invoice from Davis for the two salmon and a boat, which he paid immediately from his own pocket. The image on the screen was of a down to earth man with dark hair and a round face. He was highly decorated, and he was unafraid of any challenge. When the President pushed the button again, the image dissolved to that of a large, muscular black man. His thick arms and broad shoulders would have made him at home in a boxing ring. “Ewan Freeman AKA Bones. He is the finest tank commander. He has said he would only agree to any mission if he could take Nancy with him.”

Alex stopped Philip. “Is that his wife?”

President Owen shook his head. “It’s his tank. It has been with him on every mission, and it has never steered him wrong yet. It isn’t possible, but he will cooperate.” Philip Owen looked at the final name. He pushed the red button one final time. Bones was replaced by a dark eyed Native American warrior. “Linciu Habaru. He is of the Fosgon tribe.”

What is his speciality?” Selena was fascinated.

Well, it is impressive. However, I can’t tell you. I would have to show you,” President Owen said before playing a video that showed security footage of Linciu fighting several soldiers. It was from when he first joined the army. He was outnumbered eight to one by men much larger than himself. He restrained them all with ease and subtle breaks to the bones of their limbs. The footage then dissolved to Linciu commanding a raven.

Prime Minister Grimsby agreed. “That is impressive. I have never seen that done with a raven before.”

Commander Habaru has been a huge asset to the military. He can use that raven for signalling, messaging and in some cases even defence. There isn’t a terrain that he can’t harvest to his advantage.” Philip Owen shut the screen off. “Ladies and Gentlemen we all trust Raphael Diorra and we know the prerequisites for entry into my ‘Rogue Battalion’. They are the elite; they are the best. They will find out what is going on in Minsk. Do I have your support?”

The mission to Minsk will prove more than even the elite Rogue Battalion could have anticipated.

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It was my thirteenth birthday and I was spending it with my Aunt Lola. She was a quirky old lady who had known me since I was born. She wasn’t really my aunt at all but she had been such a close family friend she earned herself the title. I had come to live with her after an unfortunate accident with a moose and a very high cliff claimed the lives of my parents.

Well Loopy,” she said. (This was just a nickname she had for me. My real name is Lucy) “I can’t believe you are thirteen years old already.”

Given that I was so accident prone, having broken several bones several times, I was pretty mesmerised that I had reached teenage years too. Aunt Lola always made a big fuss of me on my birthday. She had no children of her own so all of her affection was aimed towards me. She gave the most random and strange gifts each year so now that I was a little older and a little more ready for her antics I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. She put an envelope into my hand and kissed my forehead. “I hope you like this one.”

My hands began to shake. Given my aunt’s fondness for all things odd there was no telling what the envelope contained. Therein could lie the secret to a number of mysteries. It could hold the key to eternal life. It could be a coupon for 10% off at any local clothes store. I tore open the envelope excitedly. A shining slip of paper fell onto my lap. I picked it up allowing the coloured paper to delight the eyes. On that special paper read the words, ‘Special Access to the Museum’. Well it wasn’t the secret to the universe but it was a great idea none the less. I was the strange kid who would rather sit in the corner of the playground reading about battles of old than play with the other children. I would much rather hear what ancient Greek philosophers had to say than my fellow classmates who stood at the edge of the football park picking their noses.

There was no time to lose. I had heard on the radio the week before that the local museum had just opened a new exhibit on Ancient Egypt. I grabbed my shining red rain jacket that was water proof but still light and airy. I pulled on my backpack which had the emblem of several superheroes embroidered on it. Aunt Lola had been complaining of what she called ‘the hardships of older ladies’. I wasn’t sure what exactly this meant but to combat it she had to lie with her feet elevated and a piece of silver on her forehead, counting backwards from one hundred.

I decided to leave the Egypt exhibit to the end. It had been busy when I arrived with business men awing at the new set up and mothers being dragged by their progeny because they thought it looked ‘cool’.

The day began to wind down. The museum emptied itself of the day trippers and quietened. As I walked through the main foyer the rubber soles of my shoes squeaked. I saw the fresh sign that directed the way to Ancient Egypt.

There was a lot of gold around. The walls were covered In hieroglyphs. I couldn’t tell if the curators had actually read the hieroglyphs or if they were merely there to impress the visitors because from what I could read they told of a bathroom disaster somewhere off the banks of the Nile.

As I absorbed all of the knowledge that the exhibit had to offer I heard the doors to the section close. I was the only person around, living at least. The lights dimmed except on the large mummy that was encased at the end of the hall. His face had been preserved all that time in a stern expression. The accompanying information explained that his name was ‘Ahmose’. He had been a fisherman but not a particularly good one. His people saw him as cursed, a jinx if you will. Ahmose was responsible for all the ill fate that befell them. Poor Ahmose. It seems he was accident prone like me. Because he had bumped into a builder, causing him to fall, destroying the temple that was in construction it seems he was now preserved for people of my year to gawk at his stupidity. They took jinxed folk very seriously in those days.

My head was buzzing with all the warmth, knowledge and dusty artefacts that the museum had to offer. I made my way back out to the main hall intent on catching the bus home. I pulled open the door but it was locked. ‘Surely they would check everyone had gone before they locked up,’ I thought. There was a heavy smash. My heart leapt from the steady thud of a tortoise to the gallop of a hare. I could feel a presence looming behind me but I couldn’t bare to look.

Argh!’ cried a dusty, throaty voice.

Slowly I did turn. Ahmose was now standing upright for the first time in many years. The paper that gave me special access to the museum slipped from my pocket. Ahmose reached down to pick it up with a crunchy crack of his mid section. He clasped it between the remains of his fingers and held it out to me.

Leave me alone!” I screamed. “Help!” Surely the museum wasn’t deserted.

Argh!” Ahmose replied.

With a quiver of my extremities I reached into my pocket and took out my mobile phone which Aunt Lola insisted I carried in case of emergencies. I was pretty sure that being attacked by the undead could very well be considered an emergency.

Hello?” Aunt Lola answered.

Help me!” I cried out.

What’s wrong?” she asked still calmly balancing the silver on her forehead.

A mummy! Its came to life. I have to get out of here!”

Most people when they tell their aunt something like this they either think they are crazy or attempting a practical joke. Not my aunt. She returned as though it was an everyday occurrence. “Do you like him?” she asked.

Like him? Its a mummy! He’s going to kill me!”

Aunt Lola groaned. “Oh don’t be so dramatic Loopy. He’s your birthday present. Don’t you like him?”

I stared at Ahomse. He stumbled backwards almost tripping over his own left foot. “Argh!” he groaned again looking at his left leg. “How many people can boast having their own mummy,” continued my aunt.

Not many,” I agreed.

Enjoy,” she said and hung up leaving me alone with the dial tone and my mummy.

Ahmose lifted a piece of pottery from the shelving. It slipped from his fingers and smashed on the floor.

My most immediate problem was devising a plan to get out of the museum that looked possibly locked, take my mummy on the bus and get home whilst not getting caught for thieving from the museum.

Next birthday I’ll just ask for clothes?

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When nineteen year old Dorian McElroy went to college, he left his old life and his mother behind. At first there were frequent phone calls. The phone calls became monthly letters. Eventually all contact was lost.

Jessica’s mild mannered world is torn apart when she receives word from the university that Dorian has taken his own life. Now she must abandon the safety of her home and venture out in search of information on Dorian’s last days, the people he met and why he made such a tragic decision.

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