PRACTICE DRAFTS. Cries of the Blood – Episode 7, PART I

FREE READS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT. Online Novel “Cries of the Blood”. Romance, Thriller and Fantasy that is actually possible.

No vampires, no werewolves, but something that you too can become. Based on scientific truths.

Novel Summary:

Aurelia is no longer a normal human. She’s grown young again, the perfect version of herself, but she’s far from the man she loves – the Blacksmith. Learning to use her new abilities and hiding in the wild depths of the Carpathians, she feeds on her memories and dreams of him.  Yet when a failed attack reveals itself as a coded message meant for her and for her alone, hope spins out of control. Following the hints, she travels to France, ardent to see him again. But the Regent’s wicked scheming and the Blacksmith’s own demonic nature will send his and Aurelia’s tormenting love on a path that will once again reveal deep mysteries but that might also claim her life. 

NOTE: Cries of the Blood is a sequel to The Blacksmith, available for you book lovers at:

The Blacksmith

I hope you savour it

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“What is this place?” I muttered, breathless, rather sensing than seeing the Abbot’s grin. He was most probably entertained by my gaping.

Through ceiling high glass doors so thin that might have tricked me into bumping my head against them just a year ago, a wide tunnel in diamond shape stretched before us. The heavy, wooden doors drummed shut behind and the panes in front slid open to some kind of… Hogwarts witchcraft lab with a slight touch of high-tech maybe? 

The walls were all stone, as if the place had been dug and sculpted centuries ago, it even smelled heavily of rock and wet earth. But what filled them… glass containers, test tubes, bottles shielded behind that same kind of glass that made out the doors. Most of them contained a dark red, somewhat viscous liquid. I instantly knew what it was – blood. My stomach clenched, again giving me the sick sensation its contents wanted to shoot up my throat. Get a grip! I gulped. Narrowed my eyes and brought labels into focus. Lymph. Calcium. Carbon. Hydrogen. Sulphur. Iron. What? Adamant? Since when does Wolverine share a desk with Harry Potter? My subconscious tried to suppress a chilling hunch with misplaced humour.

Two men appeared from a corner farther up in front of us. Dressed in outfits that resembled those of the Guard, were clearly not from their lines though, judging by the gray color. The Guard and Cleric wore leathered black suits. They raised their eyebrows and looked curiously after the Abbot and me as we passed by them. Certainly wondering what Lady in Red was doing in their ‘hood’.

I soon noticed there were arms radiating from the tunnel into snaky branches, leading to some kind of dimly lit labs indeed, scooped into the rock. As we advanced more demis moved casually around, climbing wooden stairs to upper shelves and retreating bottles and test tubes.

“This is the Vault, my dear” the Abbot’s singsong voice rang in my ear. He stretched his arm and proudly presented the place to me. He didn’t stop walking. “This is where we keep and process substances from demis’ bodies”

A cold shudder went down my spine and my mouth dropped open.

“You’re draining them?”

“We make best use of what they leave behind” he corrected. Took pleasure in the next words, surely well aware of what they did to me. “The Blacksmith peels their skin and removes their organs, then he uses the flesh – mostly the muscles – to make weapons in the forge. The rest comes here”

My legs grew heavy, the lump in my throat about to break out any second. These monsters desecrated every inch of my kind’s bodies. And Damian was one of these monsters. Top league. A Blacksmith smithing flesh into weapons. The thought stabbed me in the chest, the room started to spin with me.

“What do you do with it? With the… rest?”

“Oh, many things, Mrs. Novac. But mostly we prepare essences of nature”

The memory flashed in my mind. The colored cocktails. Those things demidemons drank at the Grabianko mansion. Nature. Nothing in nature was stronger than demiangels and demidemons, the perfect versions of the humans they once were. The best essences were made of their own bodies, like the best weapons. I couldn’t believe Ivan had presented the liquors to me so casually, instigating me to that… cannibalism. Of course, it was natural to him, he didn’t see the bad in that. I gasped. The Abbot laughed an excited laugh that seemed he’d been containing the whole time.

“Mrs. Novac” he said my name with amused awe, laughed again. “Mrs. Novac. Unbelievable. Fascinating”

That strange nausea paired with anger. What’s so darn fascinating?

“Tell me, Mrs. Novac. You and the Blacksmith, you have a past together”

When I failed to react he turned to me expectantly.

“That’s a statement, not a question” I managed, fighting down the sickness that I couldn’t release. Again, it was only the sensation, I knew.

“Oh, I’d like to hear about your story first hand. You used to be married?”

“Yes”

“For long?”

“Yes”

“But not anymore, am I right?”

“You are”

“Then how come you’re still bearing his name?”

“How do you know I still bear his name?”

“Aurelia Novac and Queen of Hearts is how the Regent refers to you” he clarified, his steps slowing down, as if to give us more chatting time.

“Changing my papers wasn’t exactly priority number one when I ran from the Grabianko mansion. Not that I have any use for them lately” I said through my teeth, remembering how I’d travelled under false names with Ivan. The Abbot’s eyes glinted mischievously.

“What do you want to know, Mr.?” I finally snapped. “I doubt there is any information that hasn’t reached you yet”

“Well, just one piece of the puzzle hasn’t. How did you two meet?”

“In college” I spat another of what I intended to be a dead-end answer. Didn’t lock the Abbot though.

“Just like that?” his eyes widened in amused surprise. And… yes, fascination. I frowned at him.

“Yeah, just like that. What’s so strange about it?”

“Oh, the ways of destiny. You and the Blacksmith, just running into each other in some provincial university town of Romania. Fascinating!”

I halted brusquely, placed myself before the Abbot, determined to get reality into his shaved head that lit up that obscure octopus of a Vault.

“Damian and I met as base humans, as Rooties. A pure coincidence”

“There are no coincidences, Mrs. Novac. Did you know that’s the first thing investigators learn?” he pressed with conviction. With the conviction of a fanatic. Or that of someone who knew better… My brain caught fire as it dawned on me.

“Why is Damian even here, Abbot? How did the Order get him to come?” I breathed, walking closer to him, fixing him with my eyes. Like the others, he kept his on my hairline.

“Oh, strange are the ways of destiny, Mrs. Novac” he breathed, as if in some trance. I sensed his words were not meant as an answer to my questions.

“Abbot…” my tone was slightly neurotic now, I wanted to grab his lapels and shake him, I needed to know. He avoided my grasp by an inch, walked by me further down the Vault. I followed automatically.

“You see, this is one of our broadest research areas. We aim to discover how those ways work and this is the task you’ll help us with”

I didn’t react. Just kept on walking, questions swirling in my head and all around Damian. Around the man I’d lived with for sixteen years and the one person I knew least about. I knew his Core had activated under the threat of Rasko ‘the Pimp’ Varn, after he’d been detained at the Grabianko mansion. But new demis were supposed to be much weaker than older ones, how come he was one of the strongest? What ordeals had that monster, Boris Grabianko, put him through? Maybe he was the reason Damian had turned into a monster himself. And why on Earth was he here? How did the Regent get him in his claws? It just didn’t add up. Damian was a Blacksmith Core. His archetype was of an underdog of society who’d developed into the highest ranked Seraph over centuries. The High Seraph. His sole purpose was of bringing death to all immortals, to all angels and demons. For believing us all unworthy, including himself. For being ‘superior’ humans, for holding advantages we hadn’t earned. For being ‘privileged’. Damian held no love for the privileged, I knew that much. It didn’t make sense, what could the Regent have offered him if the Blacksmith was known for being incorruptible, for not wanting anything for himself?

“And here we are, my dear. The library” the Abbot’s voice ripped me from the swirling thoughts. My eyes rose to a high room with racks of what looked like old scrolls, parchments filling the shelves all the way to the top. So this is how the Regent likes to keep knowledge. Bursting shelves that reach to the ceiling, just like in his study.

A dim light to my right, coming from a lamp on an antique table drew my attention. And there she stood. Aimee Leroy, the black beauty with almond shaped eyes and succulent lips, dressed in a gothic black dress, her hair done in a sophisticated chignon. Ivan’s former lover – again, if I can even call her that. It took moments until my focus shifted to her and until I realized what her presence meant.

“The entire Grabianko Nucleus is here?” I breathed to the Abbot.

It was Aimee’s temptress voice that replied.

“Since the Blacksmith came running at the Regent’s call, we couldn’t resist our curiosity” That was the first time I heard her speak. Her English had a sexy French flavour.

We stood staring at each other. I feeling nothing but that aching need to know Damian’s reasons. She provokingly.

“He came running?” I eventually babbled.

“Fascinating!” the Abbot laughed. “You have the Keeper standing before you and all you care to ask is this? Don’t you have any… other questions?”

“Other questions?” I whispered.

I sensed the Abbot breathing close against my ear. He recited the next words with reverence.

I shall return to claim my blood, once upon a nameless tomb…”

The memory hit me. The Black Madonna. The statuette and the lines on its sole. Aimee… The Keeper. My déjà vus. My heart crunched again. Damian… reclaiming all my thoughts.

“My brother Etienne sends regards” Aimee grinned, expecting to enjoy a look of horror on my face or just testing me to see if I wasn’t high on something. I must have looked like a possessed zombie. But Damian filled my heart right now like some velvety fluid that swallowed all else and made it fall from meaning. His metallic, molten eyes, those carnal lips on mine…

Aimee’s face seemed to move closer. It wasn’t until my thighs bumped against the table that I realized the Abbot had led me to her. A slap against the wood. Instinctively, I looked down. A scroll had been thrown on the table. Instinctively again, I sniffed. That smell… of rock and wood and… skin. In an instant, my eyes widened, focus sharpened. Aimee unrolled the scroll and held it just an inch from my nose. There was no doubt – it was made of demis skin. Like all parchments that filled the shelves. I gave out an impulsive hiss and launched myself at her. The Abbot’s arms hooked mine like iron straps, I struggled and wriggled, leant my weight against him and tried to reach her face with my legs. Aimee laughed amused as a shoe flew off.  Anger chocked me, I felt my cheeks burn and my stomach catch fire with ambition to smash her head.

“So aggressive, the delicate Aurelia Novac” she laughed. “I wonder if she’d go as wild on her former husband. It’s him who peels it off them…” she slowly emphasized the last words.

I gave out an angry cry and convulsed toward her again, but the Abbot hauled me into a chair. It hit with me against the shelves, parchments pooled on the floor around me. I winced. That is skin! That is demi skin, for Christ’s sake!

The Abbot kept a grip on my shoulders and as soon as he felt my breath even, trying to cope with this, he began speaking. Slowly. Calmly.

“Aurelia, you are here for a reason. The Executioner longed for a relationship with you, one that is intimate, and offered the Regent a bargain in order to help him with that. But, after meeting you, the Regent decided to assign you with a further task. Fail to fulfil it and see the friends you can save pay for that choice”

Vision sharpened. He had my full attention and he knew it. He took the chance on my focus and went on.

“Demis’ bodies bear the leftovers of their essence. Your job is to dive into the emotions their skin carries. Aimee will interpret them and put them onto the parchment. You will see, you might find yourself sensing and putting into words feelings that hold crypted information. According to how that information feels to you, Aimee will decode it. She can do that, she’s a Thesauria Core”

“Why me?” I whispered.

“Because, Aurelia, you are a Queen of Hearts. Of what I hear you’re better at influencing emotion than you are at picking it up, but, for the time being, you are the best tool we have. This is a task Dolores Calderon and Hector Mendoza used to work on together but given their… not being available, the great honor is passed on to you”

“Hector…” Shit, the Regent knew he was the man Dolores loved. ‘How much did the man who took her from me tell you about her?’ he’d asked me. Ivan was right. As a demi you register every tiny detail and memory resurfaces when it becomes relevant. It had been relevant the entire time, but I’d been too taken with Damian, seeing him again, having him so close. He’s a monster, something inside of me snarled. Hate him!

“The friends I can save” I repeated the Abbot’s words. It was clear that missing the slightest syllable had consequences, especially if the meaning dawned on me too late. “You mean there are friends I can’t save?”

“I’m afraid there is one” the Abbot nodded with false apprehension.

“If any one of them is harmed I won’t go with any of this” I pressed.

“Well, then you’ll see them all nailed to a cross”

A cross? Long moments of silence. I looked from the Abbot to a wickedly grinning Aimee, weighing options in my head. Damn, this was the demidemon secret service and it was forcing me to work for them. I knew what they had in mind. So thrilled to see my horror they had opened up completely. Searching the dead angels’ feelings would give them information on their Nucleuses, on their plans and projects, information no angel would ever disclose even under the cruellest torture. This was intelligence. They were using me for intelligence. And they were going to kill Hector.

***

Flanked by two Guards, we descended the grand stairs. My pulse quickened as we approached the male baritone mingling with female bell chatter filling the corridor that led to the ball room, sweet violin music seeping through. So close, so much like that night at the Grabianko mansion... Only at a much, much, much larger scale, that hysteric voice inside of me called in warning.

To my shock, the minstrels were base humans wearing tuxedoes and hospitable smiles, their hearts and their eyes filled with admiration and I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening emotions. Even though they sure weren’t playing for the Order for the first time, they were definitely under the demi effect – they couldn’t get used to the sight of them and got dumbfounded at each and every sight. Their music seemed to reflect what they perceived around them, the hundreds of beautiful demidemon faces, the chandeliers glowing splendidly and casting orange and reddish light all around the hall, vintage light, over the neatly arranged tables with roses in tall, supple vases. I dropped my eyes to the floor, heart pounding in fear. This isn’t the same, no orgies, no girls in lace and latex spread on the tables, I told myself in a hopeless attempt to calm down.

I instinctively looked around as if to gauge my surroundings and the threat, walking toward the front of the hall after Aimee and the Abbot. The crowd seemed to draw from our path like water splitting on Moses’s demand, making way among the tables, the sophisticated coiffures and designer outfits to some kind of… stage. It hadn’t been there before, I knew it hadn’t. They must have assembled it during the day. Behind it, cherry red curtains, spilling heavy to the floor. Greedy, expectant eyes on us, hundreds of them. I shuddered.

Aimee stopped by the stage, after breaking the row of Guards that lined it. I walked through the gap she’d created between them and halted too, but she motioned me to follow the Abbot up the stairs, onto the black, lustrous platform. My gut gave me a warning sting. I ignored it, pressing my lips together and trailing after him. That special scent of rock and metal was even stronger than the first time I’d passed through the hall, causing my head to spin. The clicking of my own heels on the stage echoed in my skull and a sick, disturbing feeling coursed through me – was it, too, fortified with their flesh?

The Abbot grinned at me, grabbed me by my shoulders and turned me round. Stiffly, I responded to the lead of his hands. The sting burst into chilling needles all through my body as I faced the crowd. You gotta be shitting me…

*******************

Hope you enjoyed this episode from Cries of the Blood and stay tuned for episode 7 part II, coming up on Wednesday. IT WILL BE SPECIAL! Please keep in mind that Cries of the Blood is a sequel to The Blacksmith and the episodes posted on this blog are censured to avoid spoilers. As soon as the book is edited it’ll be up for publishing and no longer available on this blog, so  take advantage of these following months.

Episodes 1-4 are available at Free Reads Cries of the Blood. Enjoy episodes 5 and 6 at Episode 5 and Episode 6

Don’t miss episode 7 part II, coming up on Wednesday. IT WILL BE SPECIAL!

For those of you who are in for a dangerous love story and an electrifying thriller, The Blacksmith is available in  digital format at:

The Blacksmith

Check out The Blacksmith Novel – Extended Trailer, posted previously on this blog at The Blacksmith Extended Trailer

You enjoyed this? Leave a comment and share your opinion with other readers.

As always, your enjoyment is my thrill!

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