Did you feel the YA Dark Fantasy world quake? Set on the demon home planet of Dracwald, 17 year old Myrna is transported from her home in Jacksonville, Fl to a primal, demon-corrupted, dragon-filled world at Laud the Creator's behest and against her will. In order to return home, she must fulfill a prophecy by collecting together the six remaining teenaged Vigorios (demon-hunters), get them safely to an island filled with Majikal beings who will train them all for the final war between the Seraphym and the Demons, and avoid falling in love with any of the three men pursuing her. Oh, and did I mention the constant attacks by various mythological beasts along the way, not to mention the demons who want her dead?
Under the Hat of MG/YA Fantasy Author Rebecca Ryals Russell
17-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from an attack when she was 15, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news.
She meets sweet and sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest, but harbors a secret past that ironically would destroy all the faith she has placed in him.
A handsomely roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams and makes sudden appearances in unlikely places, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.
Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
I sat cross-legged on one end of the sofa, facing Michael at the other end.
“Yeah. You could say it was horrifying.”
I was so glad today was Saturday. It was the one day of the week I didn’t have school
or work. I sat cross-legged on the sofa, watching my favorite classic movie, The African
Queen, and munching on a bowl of popcorn resting in my lap. Suddenly my body went rigid.
I sat bolt upright. My vision spun in circles. The room became kaleidoscopic. A rushing roar
echoed in my ears. Then I saw my brother Quinn running around in circles, screaming.
Wide-eyed, I stared, transfixed and mute. A boy with blond dreads, wearing a black leather
jacket and ripped jeans, chased him across a field. Once close enough, he threw some kind
of liquid from a small red can on Quinn. A smaller boy with spiky red hair tossed something
small that glowed in the dusk. It landed on Quinn’s chest.
Flames shot high into the darkness as he screamed and continued running around the
grassy enclosure. Insane laughter echoed in the still darkness. The crackling and popping of
the flames snapped like firecrackers. Quinn’s arms flailed wildly, like he was trapped in a
giant spider web. My hands balled into fists, wadding my skirt in my hands. I smelled the
acrid, sour stench of burning flesh and hair but couldn’t scream. I was frozen—watching.
Three teenaged boys, all wearing black leather jackets, surrounded him, laughing
hysterically and pointing. An oddly metallic odor of sweat mingled with the bitter odor of
searing flesh. Trees closed in like spectators, hovering in the blackness of night. Mute.
Quinn rolled on the grass, screaming a banshee wail while trying to put out the flames.
Then he lay still. Silenced. The red-haired boy poured more of the flammable liquid onto
Quinn’s back. The black-haired teen threw a match and Quinn flashed into flames again.
This time there was no movement. There was no screaming. The laughter and pointing
stopped. The three boys sneered at the flaming, blackened corpse at their feet.
“Too fast,” the smallest boy said, his hair the color of fire.
“Too easy,” the black-haired boy declared with a kick at Quinn’s head. “Whatcha
gotta say fer yerself? Shoulda paid me back, slacker.” His voice slithered slowly like the
snake his boots were made of.
“Not enough fun,” said the third. He stared at his feet, his long blond dreads falling
across his face until he turned his head to look at the smallest boy. A port wine birthmark
covered his cheek and part of his neck.
“Yeah. What video game did ya buy anyway? Sumthin’ with demons, I hope!” the small
boy squeaked, his high-pitched voice grating on my nerves. All three of them roared with
“Loser,” the black-haired boy said. A wad of spittle flew onto Quinn’s back and sizzled.
Finally I screamed. As though released from bonds, I leaped up from the sofa. The
stainless steel bowl of popcorn flew through the air, scattering kernels across the beige
carpet and clattering upside down on the coffee table. Tears streamed down my face. My
parents ran into the TV room. “Oh, my God! NO! This can’t be happening again…” I
wailed, holding my head.
“What’s the matter?” my mother, Ashley, said, as she pushed my long hair back from
my sweaty face.
Gasping with hiccups, I took a deep breath and, between bouts of crying, told them
everything I’d seen. In unison they turned their heads and looked at the television. A
Katharine Hepburn film danced on the screen.
“Are you positive?” Dad asked.
I stared my dad in the eyes and nodded. “Absolutely. You know my visions are always
right. Mom.” I looked at Mom’s white face. “We have to try and find him. Maybe it didn’t
happen yet. Usually it’s a warning. Remember Jarrod? And Marcy when she was three?”
Dad’s face went ashen and Mom’s hand, still resting on my back, began to tremble as it
flew to her mouth.
“Oh, my God,” Mom said, “we would have lost both of them had you not seen.”
“I’ll try to call him on his phone,” Dad said, leaving the room in a hurry.
Moments later he returned. “No answer. Should I call the police?”
“We don’t even know where he might be,” Mom cried, holding her face in her hands
and rocking back and forth on the sofa beside me.
Dad knelt down and made eye contact with me. At first I didn’t see him. I saw Quinn
again, running across the grass in flames.
“Where was he? Could you tell?” he asked.
His eyes, too, were already red-rimmed, as if they knew the truth.
“All I saw was grass. Like a park, maybe. But it seemed small. They took their time.”
I hiccupped, crying again as images of Quinn, much younger, flashed through my mind.
Trying to pedal his red bicycle as I held it steady for him. Crawling into my bed in the
middle of the night because he’d watched a scary movie. Rolling around on the grass in
“I can’t just wait until we hear something. Cops won’t do anything based on a vision.
I’ll drive around and see if I get lucky.” Dad looked at me, his face long and eyes sad. “I
hope this time you’re wrong, hon.”
“Me too, dad. Me too.” I shook my head, rubbing weeping eyes.
Still hiccupping, I sat on the sofa and shut my eyes. Maybe there was a detail that
would direct Dad. My head throbbed and my nose was stuffed up from crying. I hoped
another migraine wasn’t starting. The scraping sounds of Mom scooting around on the floor
picking up the popcorn irritated my brain. I’d noticed before that my hearing was super
acute during and after a vision. But I knew she had to be doing something, so I pretended
not to notice
When Dad returned without news, we all sat in a huddle on the sofa, crying and
praying. Jarrod, eleven, and Marcy, fourteen, came home and learned of my vision. Since
I’d seen him die, they knew there was no hope. My visions were always true.
“I was supposed to speak at his funeral. But I kept looking around at the people who’d
come to say goodbye and my throat constricted so I couldn’t even breathe. I was surprised
how many of our school friends came. It seemed most of the school was there. I figured
most were spectators, curious because of how he died. But since he’d been cremated, his
ashes were in a gilt urn on the table up front with his high school photo. There was no hint
of the trauma that had taken such a young life. I took some small solace in the fact they all
had to go home disappointed.
“My dad, brave soul that he is, stood behind the wooden podium trying not to cry as he
talked about Quinn. ‘“And now he’s trapped forever in a tiny jar. Quinn, the one with major
claustrophobia, now has to spend eternity in a can. Just the thought of him in there
screaming to get out, pushing on the sides of the metal…” Well, maybe that’s not exactly
what he said, but it’s what I heard.
“I ran for the bathroom just as my dad announced my name. I could feel everyone’s
eyes on my back as I rounded the corner of the hallway at a run.
“Later, in the limo Dad rented, we wound for what seemed hours around the high old
Celtic crosses and low, modern marble grave markers inside the cemetery. The place
covered easily fifty acres and the asphalt path twisted like a black snake. Finally we stopped
at the end of a long marble wall about twelve feet high. Beneath the canopy, I counted five
folding metal chairs, thinking there was one missing. But it was only an instant before I
realized Quinn wouldn’t need a chair, ever again.
“Sitting in the shade of the canopy, I was glad to be out of the burning rays of the hot
Florida sun. The glare off Quinn’s glossy memorial card, with his picture and life summed
up in seven short sentences, flashed back and forth as sweating guests fanned themselves.
The perspiring priest, dressed in full raiment, droned on and on. My eyes shifted to a giant
live oak tree across the path behind him. Its shade stretched across at least twenty graves.
“I wondered how many graves the roots had invaded, stabbing skeletons through the
head or chest as they defied death in search of life. A flash caught my attention. I looked
harder into the deep shade at the trunk of the tree.
“Three boys lounged in the shade. One boy stood with his foot propped against the tree.
He held something small and shiny in one hand, moving it up and down slightly until it
caught the light and glared into my eyes. Another sat on a huge root extruding from the
ground and the last lay on his stomach in the grass, head propped on hands and elbows in the
grass. I watched these boys, wondering why they would hang around a cemetery. Then I
realized they looked familiar. I leaned forward, squinting, trying to see through the dark
I leaned so far forward the chair threatened to collapse, nearly tossing me onto the
ground. Mom grabbed my chair and I sat back, flushed with embarrassment. I looked away
for a moment to straighten my dress, and when I looked back they were gone.
“The ceremony back at the house made me want to barf. All those hypocrites saying
how sorry they were, right after asking, “How, exactly, did he die?” I knew they’d forget
about Quinn the moment they left our door stoop. They were there for the free corn nuggets,
fried chicken, and apple pie. I managed to hang around for a while before the odors of the
food mixed together made me queasy. I told Mom I had to get fresh air. I drove the new
Tesla Dad had given me for my seventeenth birthday to Friendship Park and sat in it with
the engine off, enjoying the silence and solitude until I was sweating like a glass of
lemonade in the summer and had to get out.
“Squinting because my sunglasses sat on my dresser at home, I watched my feet and
followed the glaring white path through the columns lining the entrance. Suddenly two pairs
of sandaled feet faced mine on the sidewalk. When I looked up, I was standing nose to nose
with a pair of hippies. I stumbled back several steps, blinded by the man’s yellow Hawaiian
“‘Excuse me,’” I said politely, stepping aside to go around them. They stepped with me,
still in my way.
“‘I said to excuse me and let me pass,’” I said more firmly, stepping the other way.
They did, too.
“‘Have you gotten the word?’” the woman asked, her voice soft but firm. She held out a
fuchsia-colored flyer, so bright it glared in the sunshine.
“I took another step backward, tented my eyes with a hand across my forehead, and
looked at this odd couple. Her pleasant face, framed by wild and frizzy red hair like a lion’s
mane, held the most icy blue eyes I’d ever seen.
“I’m not interested.”
“You must be interested, Myrna.”
Her use of my name started my heart racing. Oh, no, not again.
“Who are you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
“That doesn’t matter.” The man shoved the flyer further into my personal space,
touching my free hand until I took it. His almost-white eyes blazed like a candle.
I glanced at the brilliant paper:
The time is nigh
The end is near
For your soul
Our Lord doth fear
Hell is hell
But Heaven is, too
We hope you’ll see
Mind the Signs!
“Well, isn’t that cryptic?” I said. When I glanced up from the paper, however, they
were gone. I was talking to air. Crumpling the paper, I tossed it toward the mesh trash can
beside the path.
“Mind the Signs,” a pair of voices said in unison.
I spun in a circle, but there was no one near who could have spoken. I stepped forward
into the park, hesitating slightly in case they popped into my path again. I glanced up at the
huge old three-tiered concrete fountain in the middle of the park where all of the paths
The boy from my vision, with the blond dreads and red birthmark on his face, stood
beside the black-haired teen. On the blond’s other side was the odd red-haired runt. They
stared at me. I stopped. A cold chill ran up my spine.
“All six eyes staring at me flared red in unison. The three of them had the same fixed
grin on their faces that reminded me of the old movie when Dracula was about to pounce on
his victim. I had a sudden flash of my attackers two years ago. These boys were about the
same size and age, although back then it had been dusk and hard to see, so I couldn’t be
positive. But I remembered those red eyes and the fear they instilled in me.
“I didn’t wait to see what came next. I turned and ran for my car. My stomach crunched
into a tight ball as I jabbed my thumb on the door lock and waited for the click before
jumping inside. The Tesla was so compact I banged my knees on the steering wheel and my
head on the roof frame. With tears running down my flaming cheeks, I pressed the ignition
button and swung around to check the rear passenger floor. At the same time, I flipped the
lock button on my door. Jolting the gear into reverse, I sped out of the parking lot. In my
rearview mirror I saw three dark shapes at the fountain in the same place the boys had been.
“The next day we all decided to return to school rather than moping around the house.
Since I didn’t have a first period, Mom suggested I sit on the front stoop to enjoy the cool morning air before it warmed up later in the day. In an effort to forget about yesterday, I sipped my sweet coffee and watched Marcy walking beside Jarrod. Mangus, our fluffy tabby cat, rubbed my ankles and I knelt to pet him.
“As I took another sip, I raised my eyes to the sidewalk. The same three boys I’d been seeing lately were following Marcy and Jarrod. They had simply appeared. They skipped and pushed each other about twenty feet behind, looking much like cavorting monkeys.
“But Marcy and Jarrod must not have seen or heard, because neither turned to confront them. Finally the boys all froze in their tracks and spun, staring directly at me. I dropped my cup. Their eyes blazed as red as lasers. Horns had sprung from their foreheads and long barbed tails twitched and snicked behind their backs.
“I wish there was something I could have done about them other than being afraid. And now I’m here and my family is still in danger.”