It’s been a year since the 13-year-old skateboarder found out he was an Illuminator with special powers – the ability to read minds and make things happen. Then, he was forced to use his new powers to fight the Shadowcasters. Now they’ve turned up in his hometown wanting revenge, and it will take all his skills as an Illuminator and the help of his friends to beat them again.
Targeted Age Group:: 12 years and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love adventure and mystery. And I enjoy reading and writing a real page turner with plenty of twists and turns. I have three sons and this book was originally written for them. I hope readers get as much joy from the book as I have had in writing Dawn of the Shadowcasters.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The central character is based on my youngest son, who loves skateboarding and adventure. Other characters have bits and pieces of the people in my life in them, including parts of myself.
I met him today. Stevie Vegas. I was always meant to meet him. Part of the plan – that’s why I was saved – the daughter of a Shadowcaster, no less.
I am different now to what I was then when my own people turned against me, tried to kill me. Yes, I was born to a Shadowcaster, but I am NOT one of them. I fought against the darkness that engulfed me, tempted me and tried to seduce me.
There was a light, far off in my distant self. I clung to that. That and the birth right of my mother who was descended from the Illuminators. The light ran strong in her blood, until they killed her one random but predetermined night – a house invasion the police said…
He skates, Stevie Vegas. He is different from the other boys. The light is very strong in him. Thank you, oh thank you, Aunt Bessie, for saving me from the Shadowcasters. It wasn’t easy to stay out of their vision, but thanks to you I nearly managed it. Stevie Vegas is lucky to have you as an aunt; I have no one, but you’re near enough, Aunt, to me.
Aside from my horrid birth right, my struggle to escape the Shadowcasters and hiding desperately from their view, I try to be like any normal teenage girl. Sound stupid? Well, what’s normal I say?
I have pretty hair, I know that. It’s soft and shiny, the color of dawn. And my eyes are pretty too; the darkest of brown. Intense, yes – they sometimes make people uncomfortable but that’s just because they know what I see. I see them.
And I ride as fast as the wind – not a skateboard like Stevie Vegas – no, I prefer the raw power of a motocross bike and the idea that it’s not supposed to be a ‘girl thing.’ But I’m no ordinary girl any more than Stevie Vegas is a normal boy. We are both
Shadowcaster and Illuminator alike. But these days, with the help of Aunt Bessie and those that follow the light, I am just as much Illuminator as them, and the plan is for me to help Stevie Vegas succeed. He will need my help; there is no surer thing.
They’re coming for him. I can hear them from behind the veil that separates the real world and its underbelly. Like weeds they’ll try and break to the surface, into the shadows. Some of them are here, like me, in Valley Dale. Ordinary people, doing ordinary things. To look at them, you would never guess, but they are here nevertheless. Their dark auras surround them like the black night envelops the quarter moon.
We Illuminators are here too. Opposite sides of the coin and before it’s over we’ll see what chance has in store for all of us. Stevie Vegas has no idea who I am, but when the time is right I will tell him that his Aunt Bessie saw good in me – saw the light within the darkness. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Nor ever that black and white? Shades of grey are everywhere, but what counts are the choices we make. I choose to be an Illuminator and I choose to fight with every breath in my body against what is coming.
Stevie Vegas will have many friends when they come for him. He will need them. I am one of them. I can hear the far off voices of the Shadowcasters, whispering on the wind. I am old before my time. I should not know what I do, hear what I do, and see what I do.
Why can’t I have the same uncomplicated life any 13-year-old teenager has. They like nothing better than to lip sync to their favorite singer’s songs, or spend hours straightening their hair, painting nails purple, shopping for clothes – parents catering to every whim.
Nah, that’s not me. My Yamaha 250 is my family. And Aunt Bessie too, and because of her, Stevie Vegas.
It’s time for a ride now, out beyond Valley Dale’s limits where the woods begin and, if you look hard enough, the hundreds of trails that lead down to the river, and onto the sea.
Life is not all threatening darkness, thank God. I can smell the not so far off ocean. I can feel the sun on my arms. I see the blueness of the sky and the mighty oak that lives outside my window. I know somewhere Stevie Vegas is practicing his skateboard stunts, just like I am about to ride to the ocean.
For the moment, we can be like other teenagers. The darkness will come, soon enough.
Stevie Vegas stirred fitfully in his dreams. Dark shadows penetrated the safe fabric of the reality of his new life in Valley Dale, just as certainly as Jacob Barron sent his thoughts across the landscape from where he lay in a coma, at Smithson.
He tossed. Snippets of that day were making their way back to him through this night of dreams – the stranger’s hooded face who had moved in just that day, next door. Stevie had bumped into him by chance as the hooded man was directing the moving truck into his driveway.
While Stevie was spent from a hard session at the skatepark practicing his big air twists, he couldn’t help feel the odd sensation of immediate dislike of the stranger. He thought about the Shadowcasters, briefly, for the first time in a year. No, not in Valley Dale, he reasoned. Smithson and the Barrons were far away, like a long forgotten nightmare, and life had returned to normal since those dark days when he first learned he was an Illuminator and battled the Shadowcasters.
Throughout that following year after Smithson, Stevie had buried the past, concentrated on his schoolwork, reveled in his family life, and placed the Illuminator stone far away in the back of his sock drawer. He neither used his powers of Extra Sensory Perception, nor made things happen with the strength of his mind. He buried his Illuminator powers underneath layers of denial. There were times, and battles, he wanted to forget. Like all 13-year-old boys, he was preoccupied with growing up and despite the scars of Smithson, and the threat that one day the Shadowcasters would turn up, his thoughts easily turned to the simple pleasures of living. Dark thoughts were banished, his brother Jem had fully recovered from his accident at the hands of the Shadowcasters, and Stevie had slept peacefully at night. That was until now.
His nemesis Chris Barron’s face appeared in quick succession to the hooded man’s veiled, piercing eyes. He recalled Chris Barron’s parting warning to him as his family were leaving Smithson, “Sleep while you can, young Illuminator, there will be a reckoning for you. Not today, but someday, soon. That day will dawn when you least expect it, when you experience the world as better place, and you will learn that the Shadowcasters’ influence can never be put down. And while you will never know when and how, your day of reckoning will come.”
Stevie had spat on the ground in front of Chris Barron – something he never did, and especially to an adult – the ‘leading light’ of Smithson no less, and turned away, propelling his skateboard slowly down the road while pushing his thoughts out toward him. “I am not afraid. I do not cling to the cliff’s edge waiting for fear to make decisions for me. I stand strong against you and all the others like you. I am an Illuminator.”
When his family had left Smithson so quickly after Stevie and his Aunt Bessie’s desperate midnight dash to spirit the cursed stones away from the Barron estate and drown them in the depths of the Katounga River, they had settled into Valley Dale, and Stevie felt happy. But his happiness was always marked by a back of the mind worry no 13-year-old should feel.
He had reasoned it away with time. The cursed stones, the source of Chris Barron’s power, were gone but there had been one stone they could not recover, that of Chris Barron’s son, Jacob. But, again, he had reasoned away that Jacob Barron was laid up in a hospital bed of his own making. He had fallen during the skateboarding duel with Stevie, when evil incantations had backfired, like karma having the last laugh.
Jacob Barron had been rushed to Smithson Emergency and had slipped into a coma, which he had not, to this day, recovered from. Stevie had struggled with remorse and, even in Valley Dale, felt the cold weight of guilt, which was present more often than he cared to admit.
In his dreams that night he heard Jacob’s voice too against the wind outside on that dark night, rattling the panes, and disturbing the peace of the Vegas household. Like that day in the Valley Dale schoolyard when the wind was blowing the leaves in circles outside the classroom window whispering its hidden messages, Jacob Barron was talking with someone from behind a shroud-like veil. “It is going to plan, we are growing stronger again. They are gathering. With your help, we will triumph. No light will penetrate the blackness of our being…”
Stevie sat bolt upright in bed and reached frantically for his night lamp. Fumbling with the switch, breath sucked inwards, he finally found the light, which flooded his room, driving back the darkness. He was sweating, and dazed. He looked around and found the one thing of comfort – his skateboard. He shook his head in disbelief. Why, why was he dreaming about the hooded man and about Jacob Barron? He looked skyward with what seemed like a pathetic plea. Please God, not again. Not here and in Valley Dale.
His thoughts turned to anger. He did not want to fight battles any more. It had nearly cost his brother’s life, turned his family upside down, and inside out, as they had spent the better part of a year back in Valley Dale building up their veterinary practice again. Jem had not been the same since his accident that fateful day when the Shadowcasters drove him toward an impossible climb, always honing in on the weakest link. Well his brother was not the weakest link in the Vegas family. Stevie gritted his teeth.
He didn’t know why, but his resolve rallied against the thought that he might meet with the Barrons again – he was not afraid. He hadn’t used his Extra Sensory Perception in a long while, but in the middle of the night, sitting upright in his childhood bed, he thought of his Aunt Bessie who was the other Illuminator in the Vegas family. “Aunt Bessie,” he whispered into the night.
“It’s starting again.”
He got up and quickly went to his chest of drawers. Opening the top one where his socks and baseball caps were, he reached into the furthest of corners. He felt the warmth pulsating from the back of the drawer even before his fingers reached his Illuminator stone. He picked up the necklace and relief flooded through him. Somehow, in that split instance, everything was all right again. He hadn’t worn that necklace in a year, but now he slipped it over his head. The blackness of his nightmares receded, just like the dark ocean of his fear. Yes, he was full of anxiety about what he knew was coming – but not afraid. Never afraid.
Stevie let sleep take him then, one hand on his Illuminator stone and the other resting on his skateboard which he had stood beside his bed.
Morning dawned just like any other and he heard his mother’s urgent tones from downstairs. “Stevie, Stevie Vegas, will you get up and start getting ready. You will be late otherwise and I have a little dog that’s just been brought in with a broken leg. I need to go into surgery in twenty minutes and I won’t be able to drop you at school.”
Stevie jumped out of bed at his mother’s voice. She very rarely raised it, and he knew that there was a veterinarian emergency on her hands. He would have to take Jem to school, but at least he could skate the mile or so to Valley Dale Elementary, while Jem rode his BMX. Ah, yes, there was that guardrail on the stairs leading down into Fontenoy Street. It was one of his favorite places to Grind. Perhaps he could practice that kickflip off the rail, though it was pretty high and his landing may not be smooth…
As he ran past Jem’s door he noticed him on the computer. “Hey, bro, ace it up, what are you playing, you know that Mum and Dad say no gaming before school.”
Jem dragged his gaze away from the computer. “Shut up, Stevie, you’re not the only one who’s good at stuff. I’ve just reached a new level on this new game, and it takes strategy to do that. It’s not just about shooting ‘em up, you know.”
“Whatever, bro, but you better put your skates on, ‘cause Mum is cracking the whip something bad.”
His brother grimaced at him. “I’m not the champion skater in this family. You are, remember? Leave me alone and stop always trying to run my life. I’m not you.”
Stevie shot a puzzled look at his brother. “Sorry, Jem,” he muttered on his way to the bathroom, under his breath. “I only do things ‘cause I care. Sorreee!”
Both he and Jem were soon downstairs, enjoying the bacon and egg breakfast their mother had cooked earlier that morning.
“Stevie, how many times do I have to tell you? Do not bring your skateboard to the table,” his mum pleaded. “It doesn’t have to lean on the table next to your chair. It will be all right in the lounge. Now, go and put it there and don’t bring it to the table again.”
He did as he was told, but not before he winked at his dad.
“Oh, come on, Syl, it won’t hurt, you know.” His dad was always ready to come to the defense of his son’s hobbies. He was less tough on his two boys than Sylvia Vegas, though goodness knows teenage boys needed a few boundaries. Mrs. Vegas supplied them but Stevie knew, like Jem and his dad, that he would not bring his skateboard to the table again…well, at least for one week.
It was a quick breakfast for the Vegas family that morning. His mum worked in the annex at the side of the house, which doubled as their vet surgery given they had to let the rented practice go as a result of the upheaval in moving to Smithson, and then back to Valley Dale. Money was a little tight when they had returned, so the double garage had been converted into vet rooms to save money. His dad, on the other hand, was doing house calls to the ritzy part of town – not something he overly enjoyed as he specialized in larger animals, but it did bring the extra money in when doting, rich pet owners wanted their dog’s nails clipped.
“Well, Vegas boys,” his father said brightly getting up from the table. “I’m off to Green Valley to tend to a spoilt pooch.”
“And I’m off to do some real work,” his mother said, giving her husband a kiss on the cheek. “You boys finish your breakfast quickly, and out that door please within two minutes. I’m just next door you know, and I can hear the front door slam.”
Stevie smiled at Jem. “Coming, Jemmy?” He waited for his brother’s sarcasm, but, surprisingly it didn’t come.
Jem spooned the last of his eggs into his mouth and gave Stevie a tired look that said, ‘It’s OK’ and the harsh words of that morning were forgotten.
They were just about out the door, when his mother called to him. “Oh, Stevie, Aunt Bessie rang this morning. She wants you to call her back tonight. She’s travelling at the moment, but said she wanted to catch up with you. Everything all right?” Mrs. Vegas asked, a slight worry underscoring the faint lines on her forehead.
Stevie too was puzzled, but then remembered his nightmare. “Yeah, Mum…err everything is OK, I just wanted to say hello to Aunt Bessie and make sure she’s not overdoing things, you know travelling around the country…”
“Umm, OK, then,” his mother called. “Now off to school and easy on the skating tricks on your way.”
And with that, the Vegas family began their seemingly normal day. Only Stevie was preoccupied, remembering his dark, night time dreams.
About the Author:
Maryann Weston is a professional writer, training initially as a journalist and editor.
She has made it her mission to follow her dreams, including writing novels, and has combined her love of new challenges and new horizons with a vivid imagination and ability to tell a good story.
Maryann has a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and is also a qualified teacher and counsellor, with a Graduate Diploma in Education and a Diploma of Community Services.
She currently works as a journalist, editor and public relations professional and is a mum to three boys. She lives with her family in rural NSW, Australia.
Maryann also writes action/adventure books for teenagers including Shadowscape and Dawn of the Shadowcasters. Both are available on Amazon under her pen name M.R. Weston.
Author Home Page Link
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