Selene woke in a haze, her head pounding, body aching, her last memories being that of her home burning, her life draining away. Taking in her surroundings, she found herself in a dark cave, crevice, and nook in the foundation, easy to see.
Lifting her arm to cradle her aching head, she stopped, mouth open, ready to scream. Her skin, which used to be a light olive from her time in the sun, was now pale as the moon, as plain as porcelain. Frantically, Selene began to wipe at her arm, her nails scratching her skin, as she sought out any spark of glimmering sheen, any sign of light. Only blood, drawn from her frantic scrapping, greeted her.
“You’re finally awake.”
Jumping up with lightning speed, she pressed her body against the wall and stared at the sandy-haired Vampyre before her, his brown eyes tinged in red.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Dimitri, a friend of Nivette’s. She suspected that you would not take this well.”
“Where is she? Where’s my brother? Eris? Eris!”
“Shh, please, you’ll attract the coven. They’re hunting us.”
“Where is my brother?”
“He is fine, Selene,” came a familiar voice. “He is by the river.” Selene looked past Dimitri to the cave entrance. There stood Blake, solemn-faced.
“Nivette said you would be quite upset if she didn’t save your village. She tried to turn as many people as she could, those she could reach. She thought you were going to die, actually, but you didn’t.”
“Who else survived? Who else is like us, Blake?”
“Where is she?” she asked urgently.
“Selene, calm down,” soothed Blake. “She’s with the Vampyre Eno. She’s trying to calm Jeanette down.”
Selene almost laughed. “Yeah, good luck to her.”
“If anyone can do it, Eno can. She was a Touched Born who was able to feel emotions. Now she can manipulate them,” said Dimitri, leaning against the wall.
“Well, that certainly can come in handy.”
“It already has,” answered Blake. “Jeanette was contemplating killing you while you slept. You’re turning took longer than the rest of us.”
Selene wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear that. “That sounds like her.” Selene let out an exhausted sigh. “Where is Nivette?”
“Hunting with our comrades Tania and Cinio. She’s trying to prevent you from succumbing to the Blood Hunger. Trust me, it’s not a fate you would want to befall you.” Dimitri looked away briefly, picking dirt out of his nails. Selene didn’t know what to make of him, but Nivette trusted him. Right now, that was all that mattered.
“I need to find Eris.”
Dimitri looked at her, studying the determination on her face before nodding, sending relief through her. “Be careful to not run into Jeanette or any Vampyre. Like I said, they’re still looking for us.”
“Yeah, okay.” Selene took a woozy, unsure step forward, moving faster than she had intended. It took her seconds to reach the forest, upon which her breath caught at the spellbinding beauty before her. Everything was clearer, brighter. The moonlight lit up the world, revealing sights her human eyes had been blind to. Fireflies flew through, coupled with butterflies and bees, sending pollen into the air. As it flew through the air, the moonlight bounced off it, making it shimmer like silver dust in the night. She could see clearly into the dark forest as though it was daytime and hear every sound, cricket, rabbit, and dear scamper as though she were next to it. Where had they all gone the day before, and why were they here again?
Selene pushed the question out of her mind and ran through the forest. She ran and ran until she reached the river. Eris sat, his back hunched, staring at the little fish in the river as they jumped to catch the flying bugs above it. He fixated on them, ignoring her approach.
“It seems we’ll be able to watch the next eclipse…and then some.” He muttered, tossing a pebble into the clear mirror-like river that trickled along slowly.
“So like you to make light of the situation.”
“If I don’t, I might lose my mind.”
Selene took a seat next to him. “Jeanette wants to kill me.”
“Is it wrong of me to wish she wasn’t around?”
“No.” She paused, leaning back to look past the branches into the night sky. “Eris, we don’t have to live, you know. We could just sit here until the sun rises.”
“I’ll do whatever you choose. If you die, so do I. You’re my brother, and everything will be all right as long as we’re together.”
Eris sighed and slipped into the water. “I want to see Azelia again. I want to live to see her.”
“All right. So we’ll live. I don’t mind.” Selene looked at him briefly, giving him her kindest smile. “I would like to see the eclipse and enjoy it.” They were both silent, the animals making the only sound.
“Home was destroyed,” blurted Eris, hatred thick in his tone.
“Mom and Dad?”
“Dad’s dead. Mom survived.”
No, not her father. Selene hugged back the tears; she couldn’t cry now. “Mom’s been through so much, and now she’s all alone.”
“The barrier went back up. No one knows how. I think it was She of the Dark. This whole thing reeks of her, of her evil and her hatred. I just wish I knew how it fell.”
Selene’s wrist tingled, making her look at it. Little shadows danced beneath her skin, around the rune, like black ink turning into fire. “Eris, I think it was me.” She met his gaze evenly, showing him her wrist. “It was my fault. My runes, the dark one especially. My magic must have done something. I allowed her in.” She clutched her hair in a fist as she pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead to keep from crying. “We fell into his trap. Into her trap.”
The water swished as he made his way to her, gently holding her by the shoulders. “Shh, Selene, you’re speculating. You don’t know that it was your fault. For all you know, it would have fallen either way. She was just waiting for us to return, seeking our vengeance. We may have fallen, but we’re alive, and I don’t think they expected that.” He kissed her forehead.
“Selene,” he began, his voice soft but firm, edged with something dangerous, “I can do things I couldn’t do before. My Touched Born abilities are amplified. I can become shadows. I can take on Senid. I can kill him!” Looking up, she saw the wild look in his eyes. It worried her, but the possibility made her hopes rise.
“Are you sure you can? They’re creatures of Darkness.”
“Maybe so, but everything has a heart. It’s just a matter of finding it.”
“You might die.”
“If I do, you have to promise to find Azelia and tell her I love her.”
“Don’t be overdramatic,” she scolded, trying to lighten her fears.
“Why should that privilege be reserved for you?”
“Because it’s expected of me.” Selene laughed when suddenly something slammed her against the ground, sending her sprawling against a faraway tree. Initially, she thought it was a Vampyre from the coven. Instead, it was worse – it was Jeanette.
“You! This is all your doing!”
Shoving Jeanette off her, Selene growled, surprising herself with how natural the sound came from her. “Calm down, Jeanette.”
“You should have stayed gone!”
“This is my home, I couldn’t.”
“Your home? You brought death. It was a blood bath!”
“Jeanette, shut up,” screamed Eris. Selene saw Jeanette flinch, and the satisfaction of her fear washed over her. Jeanette slowly took a few steps back. “It’s not all her fault, you stupid selfish bitch.”
“All of you quiet!” hissed the Vampyre Selene suspected was Eno. In the darkness, leaves crunched beneath the sound of feet, catching her and her brother’s attention.
“Selene, catch!” Selene turned to the sound of her brother and caught the dagger that glinted in the moonlight. The cold still sent tingles to her fingers, but now the cold wasn’t numbing. Quickly, she used the dagger to slit the throat of a coming Vampyre, stabbing it quick in the heart. It fell to the floor dead. Looking down at the body, she felt nothing.
“There are more,” said Eno. “We should run to the cave. Nivette and Cinio are probably waiting. Trust me, you do not want the blood of a being too long dead.” Eno ran off, followed closely by Jeanette, who gave Selene one last scathing look. Eris looked at her briefly.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“The question is, will Nivette agree.” Both ran off side by side. Selene’s runes glowed as she flew over the ground faster and faster.
“You have lost your minds,” commented Nivette as she leaned against the cave wall.
“I thought you knew us better by now,” snickered Eris, sparing a glance at Jeanette, who was glowering. It was like her face was permanently stuck that way.
“That is true.” Nivette sighed. “Well, we might as well. They won’t stop hunting us, you two especially. We’re just traitors; you’re their meal ticket.”
Nivette shrugged. “Might as well start now while the moon is high. At the first light, quickly return here. You four are Newborns. You’ll perish in the sun instantly.” Nivette ran off, followed by her companions. Eris winked at her and showed off his new ability. He fell into the shadows, like a Shadowling. A chill went up her spine.
“I’m going to pretend each Vampyre I kill is you,” said Jeanette, stepping to her side.
Selene’s lips curled into a sardonic smile. “Good, it might actually make you a more efficient killer.”
“I wish you had never been born.”
“My, my, when did you become so resentful?”
“When did you become so cold?”
Shrugging, she turned the cold dagger in her hand. “See you later, Jeanette.” Selene ran off into the night and sniffed the air around her.
“I can kill you all,” she taunted, twirling her dagger. She studied the night around her, no longer the hunted but the hunter. Closing her eyes and bending down, she placed a palm on the ground, using her Earth rune to feel through the earth. Around her, she could feel the weight of three bodies trying to encircle her. Waiting until the last moment, she launched herself into the air the moment they pounced, landing gracefully behind them, grabbing a male by his hair and snapping his neck, tearing his head off his shoulders with ease. Both of the females jerked and stared at Selene, snarling.
“We’re older than you, Newborn,” hissed the brunette female, her eyes blood red.
“Which means we’re faster,” snarled the red-headed one. Selene smiled.
“We’ll see.” One ran around behind her while the other pounced. Selene was quicker. She felt the blade grow colder in her hand. Shadowling blades were poisonous to all living beings. She knew that firsthand.
Selene slid the blade into the redhead’s side, sidestepping and pulling it out of her. She screamed in agony and fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Little tendrils of blackness spread from the wound, the poison of the unnatural magic spreading through her. The brunette wailed angrily, throwing herself at Selene, who anxiously licked her lips. Catching her in mid-jump by her throat, she slammed her into the ground. Latching her fangs onto the Vampyres’ neck, she, with little effort, tore the head off her shoulders. Standing up, she wiped the disgusting blood off her lips, uncharacteristically, with the back of her hand. A presence revealed itself, and she turned to see Ettore grinning.
“Is there something you find amusing?”
“You’re a natural killer. I find it captivating.”
“Well, as flattering as that is, it’s disturbing.”
“How very human of you to think in such a way.”
Selene grinned, feeling her fangs on the sides of her mouth. “My brother plans on going after Senid.”
“Oh, well, that’s dangerous but…” He began to mumble under his breath so low that even with her heightened hearing, she could not hear. The moment he stopped, he looked at her skeptically. “I should find Negal.” He turned to leave, but Selene caught him on his arm.
“Can he do it?”
“It is…possible.” He vanished, his arm slipping through her fingers. Selene looked back into the sky before she continued her hunt.
Eris tore his head off and showed absolutely no mercy. These things took the only father he knew, leaving his mother utterly alone. Seeking out another, he tore his heart out from the shadows. The word mercy no longer held any meaning.
Creeping along farther down the river, he saw his sister washing herself. The water around her turned red.
“You certainly look bloody.”
Turning to face him, Selene grinned like a hungry predator. “Ettore said that I’m an efficient killer. Faster than they are and a bit stronger.”
“How many have you killed?”
“Six. I hunger to see them all bleed, though.”
Selene growled delightfully. “Mainly the Coven leader. He knows the law that binds his kind; the others simply succumb to the blood hunger.”
Eris looked around. “Do you think something like this will happen again?”
“Yes,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Where do you suppose the Coven Master is?” Selene shrugged.
“Find Nivette, she’ll probably know.” Selene splashed water on her brother. “Ettore thinks you might live and succeed in killing Senid.”
“Glad to hear it.” Eris vanished, seeking out Nivette. He found her sitting up in a tree, eating an apple. Eris slid onto the branch next to her, poised like a cat.
“If I kill your Coven Master, what will happen?”
“You take his place.”
“Can I kill him?”
“If you don’t, the King surely will. You might end up saving many more lives. Do you really want to take his place and rule those that destroyed your home?”
“To be quite honest, I don’t care. They are all mindless hunters. They will follow whatever choice is given. Besides, as Selene said, they all succumbed to the Blood Hunger. I will show no mercy to those who cross my path.” Nivette gently touched his shoulder, looking up at him endearingly.
“His name is Aipro, and he’s over seven hundred years old. He falls victim to his anger quite easily. Play with him. Tick him off. No matter how you win, they will bow down to you. He has those who are loyal to him and will try to kill you the moment you relish in his demise. Get your sister. I hear she’s quite the killer.”
“Send her my way then. Where is he?”
Nivette pointed east. “There is a cave east of here, not that far, but not close. That is where the Coven lies. Go down the left tunnel, then right, then right again. He’ll most likely be sitting on his makeshift throne.” Eris left without another word and traveled through the shadows to conserve his energy and strength.
Within the shadow world, everything looked different. Everything seemed brighter, yet darker at the same time. It hurt his eyes and yet felt oddly familiar. Kept a window open to watch how distance played no part in this world compared to the other, catching sight of Jeanette, who looked merciless. He could hear her curse out Selene’s name. When did she become so bitter?
Eris sought out Blake, who was alongside Eno. He could tell Blake was feeling guilty for the lives he took even though one of them had killed his little sister before his very eyes. That was Blake, though, clear-headed until the very end.
Eris stepped from the shadows and took his complete form. Near the cave, a waterfall was on the other side of the high cliff. Starring at the waterfall, Eris watched the moonbeams bounce off the water and light up the woods. The night honestly had many beauties he felt bittersweet about enjoying.
Entering the cave, Eris made his way slowly, casually, giving Selene a chance to catch up to him. The cave walls were smoother, obviously dug out carefully. It was most likely dug out by the Coven Master and his Council. Councils. What a useless group of people, thought Eris. Councils, constantly bickering, never seeing the good of merit, only the bad, and the little mishaps of any plan. Doesn’t matter the race, councils were stupid.
As he took the left tunnel, he thought about his sister. He knew what she was going to do. Could see it in her eyes as she spoke. She would do everything in her power (which was now a lot) to ensure that the Sanguine was not repeated. More importantly, he could tell that her blood lust was far from satiated. Eris knew what she wanted because he wanted it to. The blood of Kyra and Larkin.
Eris turned down another hall, mindlessly snapping the neck of any lone Vampyre that crossed his path. Their orders were to kill him, and even if their hunger had been satiated, they still had orders to follow above their Coven Master. Why could Senid not fight his own battles? Only cowards sneak into a palace. Only cowards stab a wounded woman from behind. Only cowards manipulate the hungry and weak to do their bidding.
Eris walked on until he reached a large ornate door. A warning to travelers all around. The warning made him scoff. Eris opened the doors and steadily met the eyes of the “great” Aipro.
“You don’t look like much Aipro. Why in the world would Senid go to you? Your Blood Hunger must truly make you easy to manipulate.”
Aipro eyed him angrily, Eris’s survival upsetting his plans. “I will kill you.”
“You can try. Lackeys aren’t really good at getting the job done. You all, well, suck. No pun intended.”
“You will learn your place!”
Eris cocked his head to the side and smiled, already smelling his victory. “I doubt that very much, Aipro. I haven’t found it before. Besides, much like this coven here, you are weak, feeble, and pathetic.” Eris’s smile broadened. If he was good at doing anything in life, it was goading. Aipro flew from his seat and gripped Eris’s neck tightly. The attempt to scare him only made his grin brighter.
“You will die!” Eris winked at him, slipped through his hand like a Shadowling, and reappeared at his side.
“Maybe, but not by your hand.” Eris dispersed again when Aipro pounced, his laughter ringing as he materialized high on the ceiling.
“You’re pathetic! I’m right here. Why can’t you catch me?” Eris waited there, using his magic and Touched Born abilities to form a knife made out of shadows, sharp, sleek like obsidian, and colder. He was enjoying this Vampyre thing very much.
Eris waited on the ceiling for Aipro, who fell into his trap perfectly. Eris grinned once more as he shoved the blade into his heart.
“That’s for my father.” He formed another, thrusting it into his side. “That is for my home and this,” he began gripping his throat, “well, this is just for the heck of things.” He broke his neck, crushing it with his hand before jumping onto the floor. He was weak. Eris had exerted himself with all the power he had used to finish off Aipro. He saw the Council ready to pounce and braced himself. He made a silent prayer for Selene to hurry up.
A woman of the group, with eyes blood red in fury, stepped through the crowd. Eris prepared himself to fight her. Luckily, when she took a step, it ended with her gasping in shock. Behind her, holding her by her hair, was none other than Selene. A cold, detached look filled in her purple eyes, unnerving him.
“Took you long enough.”
“Forgive me, brother,” she said, snapping the Vampyres’ neck. “I had to run.” She stepped over the lifeless body at her feet as though it was nothing, setting it ablaze behind her.
“The important part is you’re here.”
“That I am.” She looked past him towards the ceiling. “We really should do something about that body up there.”
“We’ll let the council take of it. They have to obey me now.”
“Oh goody, you’re giving orders.”
“Well, I am the new Coven Master.”
Selene smiled, amused. “So send out a message. Dawn is almost here.”
“Oh yes!” Eris coughed and went to the “throne,” motioning for Selene to take the seat on his right. Skeptically, she did, sitting with her back straight, twirling her dark dagger in her hand. Not a single Vampyre moved.
“I’m your leader now. If you disobey me, I will kill you or have Selene here do it. As you saw, she’s quite merciless.” Selene smiled at the crowd. “Take another life, break the Vampyre Rule, and I will kill you. Is that understood?” Every Vampyre in the room got down on one knee, swearing their allegiance, a thrilling sound made that made Eris beam. “Good, go get the others, my comrades included. There will be no more killing.”
“This night,” added Selene in a whisper. Eris looked down at her and nodded in agreement. While she was thinking of Kyra and Larkin, he was thinking of only one. Senid.
Blood Hunger (Eclipsing Trilogy, #1)
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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