Blood Hunger: Chapter Twelve

“The sun is rising,” said Nivette waking Eris from his slumber. “Your passage should be safe as long as the sun stays out.”  Nivette helped him stand and then offered a hand to Uriel. He took her hand without prejudice.

“Thank you, Nivette,” said Uriel, meeting her gaze evenly.

“Don’t thank me. I’m not pleased with being in the middle of this mess again, but I would rather work for Negal than Senid.”

“Why?” asked Eris.

“My reasons are my own.”  She looked away. “You should leave now.”  Nivette looked at him, her arm covered in dry blood. Eris wondered how she truly felt about ripping her friend’s heart out if she hated him or herself.

Eris trudged on, silently following Uriel through the forest.

Uriel’s soft voice joined the sound of his sword jingling at his side. “You’re lucky, Eris.”

“Why?”  Eris’s voice was coarse from his silence, a strong contrast to Uriel’s.  Reborns were always so perfect. It annoyed Eris.

“Shadowlings and Vampyres are trying to protect you. Unfortunately, in my experience, Shadowlings wish for death while Vampyres live to feed.”  He looked at Eris. “Consider yourself lucky.”

“I don’t feel lucky. Selene’s life is in danger, and not just hers.  Now Negal’s and Void’s, not to mention Nivette. Their own people are coming after them. At least Negal and Void cannot be killed.”

“That is their curse.”  Eris didn’t understand as he continued to walk along. He felt eyes watching and hoped it was either Negal or Void, not Senid.

***

Selene wrung her hands together as she waited with Naavah and Ranita in one of the many living rooms of the Healonic Hotel in Nephilium. She needed to know that Eris was okay, that her promise to her parents to look after him wasn’t broken. Letting him stand alone to fight was quite the opposite.

“He will be fine as long as those guarding him can be trusted,” soothed Ranita rubbing her back as she sat beside her.

“They can,” she muttered. “Negal has killed for us. I know I can trust her.”

“Negal is the Shadowling correct?” asked Ranita.

“Yes. I know you don’t like them—”

“That assumption is incorrect,” began Naavah. “We fear and pity them but do not hate them. I have never known a Reborn to hate. We wish to live and wish the Shadowlings would leave us be but killing us is their purpose. Creatures created to kill and cursed because of it.”

“I would hate them,” whispered Selene.

“Hate is a useless emotion. All it does is breed more hate. All we can do is live the life we’ve been given and accept what is,” said Naavah standing by her side.

“Has there ever been a Reborn that hasn’t been murdered?”

Naavah and Ranita exchanged a worrisome look. But Ranita nodded, causing Selene’s heart to quicken with hope.

“There has been but one since the beginning,” began Naavah.  “Few have met her, and less know her past. Ranita and I are among those few. She fell in love with a Shadowling, and Shadowling was the only one granted mortality. Since then, life after life, they find each other, and together they grow old.”

“Shadowlings have never killed someone they aren’t seemingly bound to,” continued Ranita. “The fact that one not only killed prey that wasn’t his but also wants your brother is…alarming.”

“Is that the only reason you took him away?”

“In part. My daughter truly needs a Touched Born comrade. My kind may not be judgmental as they come into their memories, but as young ones, they are. It is a strange trait among our kind.”  Ranita let out a slight laugh that came out more like a cough. “Although, we are a strange bunch.”

Selene smiled. “We’re all strange in our own way.”

“You in particular, Selene.” Spinning around, knocking over her chair, Selene stared at the door at the cocky grin that could belong to no one else but her brother. “No, hello?”

Selene ran to her brother, missing his attitude and arrogance, and embraced him tightly. He was okay, all in one piece. After taking that and his appearance in, she punched him.

“Ow!”

With one hand on her hip, she pointed at her brother, staring him down.  “Don’t you dare make me leave you behind again.”

“All right. I’ll never put your well-being above mine ever again.” Selene rolled her eyes while he laughed, trying to hide her amusement and relief. But, unfortunately, all those good feelings vanished when she saw the blood on him.

“Eris, look at you.  Are you hurt?  What happened?  Why is all this blood on you!” Then, despite herself, her voice rose to a shriek, and her body began to shake.

“Shh, it’s okay, Selene, it’s okay,” he gently touched her shoulders.  “It’s not my blood.  A Vampyre had me in her clutches, and Nivette saved me…in her own way.”

“My dear boy,” began Naavah, making her way to Eris and Selene, “we need to get you into some decent clothes.”

Looking down at his clothes, Eris nodded, responding, “that might be best.”

Selene took a step back, swallowing her new fears. “Go get cleaned up. I’ll—”

“No,” interrupted Ranita standing up and making her way to her, “I’ll show him to his room. First, I wish to know more about the Shadowling Negal and the Vampyre Nivette.” Then, winking at Selene, she nudged her forward. “You should get him some food and clean clothes in the Market Square.”

Selene nodded. “Okay. Don’t get into any trouble,” she scolded, giving him a pointed look, one their parents used to give him.

“I’ll be on my best behavior.” He walked off and heard Ranita begin her questioning. Then, turning to Naavah and Uriel, she gave them a worried glance, an expression she was becoming far too familiar with.

“Naavah, how are we supposed to get to Seraphim. We have no carriage, and the journey is still weeks away.”

Naavah put up her hand, silencing her worries. “I will take care of that. I will contact the High Court. We will have to stay here in the meantime until they arrive. All will be well.”  She smiled at her before leaving the room, her shimmering green wings reflecting the sunlight that fell in through the windows.

“I hate waiting,” she said to no one in particular. Uriel laughed.

“Patience is a virtue, Selene.”

“Not one of mine.”  Selene walked off, leaving the Hotel, embracing the sunny day as she made her way to the city shopping center. This was Nephilium and was much safer than any village or town. Its barrier was naturally given, like that of Seraphim, the original template for everywhere else.  No place was truly safe, though.  Darkness existed wherever there was light.

The sun reflected off the tall buildings revealing the lighting fixtures within. Selene looked at the roads and market shops as she twirled her dagger in her hand, flicking her fingers here and there so as not to drop the sharp blade. This city was the home of Reborns and housed just as many Witches. She looked around and saw men with top hats, their wings in various colors. She saw a woman with a bonnet and children with dolls. Selene couldn’t help but wonder how long they would live. If their Shadowlings were around, watching them through their mind’s eye. So lost in her thoughts, she did not notice someone following her.

“What’s going through your mind, Selene?” Selene spun around, and her dagger fell to the ground as she missed the flick of her index finger.

“Uriel!  You shouldn’t sneak up on people.” She bent down to pick up her dagger as he made his way to her.

“I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”  His voice was so smooth, charming, and lacking obnoxiousness.  “Until then, will you tell me what is going through your mind?”

“Reborns,” she scoffed before looking up at him. It was hard to meet his gaze when she saw their warmth. It spread through her as well. “You can’t hate, can you?”

“Hate is a wasted emotion—”

“I know,” she said, cutting him off. “Naavah gave me the speech. What I want to know is, why don’t you?”

“Because it’s not the Shadowlings that truly seek our demise but rather the Dark Gods. Even if we did hate them, it would be misplaced.”

“Senid wants my brother dead.”

“Maybe, maybe not. The Gods are always watching, influencing everything around us.”

“Yeah,  I know that.”

“So I’ve heard. Do you still have your marble?”

Selene’s eyes widened. “How—?”

Uriel offered her another charming smile. “We Reborns may not be skilled in magic, but we have particular gifts unique to us.”

“What can you do?” Selene asked, walking along.

“I can see auras. It’s how I can see the marble. The light around it is almost blinding.  Although, your aura continues to outshine it.”  She stopped, taken back. Uriel was so close to her, so caught up in staring around her, that it almost seemed like an absentminded gesture when he stroked her cheek, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.  But it wasn’t.  Catching himself, he looked away, dropping his arms back down.

“So, what can Naavah do?” she said, walking along again.

“Touch emotions, affect them. It’s why most people are fond of her.”

“Does she always influence people?”

“No. Only in situations where there is a need.”

Selene stopped walking again. “What about Vampyres and Shadowlings?  Can she influence them?”

“I wouldn’t know. She might be able to, but she might not. I  doubt she would be able to with Shadowlings, though. When I saw the Shadowling in the forest, I saw his aura. It was pitch black with a light gray on the fringes to indicate life. Shadowlings are creatures of death, not truly living. To try to influence what is not there would be impossible. With Vampyres, however, it might be possible. When I saw Nivette’s, hers was vibrant with life and feelings like love and conflict and edged in a heavy blackness. She is more alive than any Shadowling.”

“So it’s possible,” she murmured half to herself.

“Again, maybe. However, I think it would be challenging.” He looked ahead. “The tailor is up ahead. Perhaps you should fetch some clothes for your brother. Then, I’ll grab us some food.” He bowed to her before turning on his heel. When he was out of sight, Selene reached into her coat pocket and pulled out her little journal that she always kept close to her heart. She quickly wrote down her new discovery before sidestepping into a dark alley between two buildings.

“Negal?”

“I’m always watching Selene,” said Negal stepping out of the darkness. “What do you want?” Her tone was not one of annoyance but rather one of genuine kindness. However, Selene was given the impression that she was being a burden.

“Can I ask you something?”

“That depends. Are you going to put it in that little book of yours?” she asked, pointing a long black nail at it.

“Well, I mean, would you prefer I didn’t?”

Negal eyed her curiously. “Ask your question then I will decide.”

“Can you die? Are you remorseful?”

“That is two questions, child. To both, I say no. You may write that.”

“You aren’t…why aren’t you remorseful?”

Negal crossed her arms and smiled, amused. “Another question? Well, Selene, we hear the hymns emanating the Reborns, a curse of our being born from our mothers’ rage. We seek to silence it so that we may have peace.”

“Then why are you helping us?”

Negal’s cold gaze softened. “A story for another time, but I will tell.”  Her body began to dissolve into shadows. “Farewell, Selene.”

Selene stood there a moment longer before she sighed, frustrated, slipping her notebook back into her coat.

Purchase Blood Hunger here. Happy reading!

Blood Hunger (Eclipsing Trilogy, #1)

Blood Hunger: Prologue

Eris and Selene Sintas thought their menial Witching lives were simple. That was until the magical barrier protecting their small town vanished in the night, attracting not just the Vampyre’s that go bump in the night. Suddenly, the two siblings discover that they have been dragged into a war between the sisters of light and darkness.

Now, hunted by creatures stronger than Vampyre’s and far more evil, the Sintas Siblings must find refuge before they lose their souls to the Goddess of Darkness.

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