PRACTICE DRAFTS. Cries of the Blood – Episode 7, PART II – THE CRUCIFIXION

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

Foto

Humungous, egg-shaped, with crowded four story loges coiling up to the cupola above, the hall revealed itself in full glory as what it was – a highest class indoor arena. From the stage it would have been as good as impossible for base human eyes to distinguish any faces, blinded by the spotlight that now swiftly blasted against my face. From the corner of my eye I caught another flash, an instant later. Another spotlight dropping on a widely grinning Abbot, his arms open like a star’s taking in the clatter and worshipping calls of the crowd. So he was the master of ceremonies… All ceremonies, no doubt, the crowd knew him well. Farther down to his left, another stark spotlight fell on the Executioner, standing tall, dressed in a white shirt that complimented his supple body, and black pants. Absorbing my surroundings, I hadn’t seen him coming. Or had he been there the entire time? His ivory face was tense, his abysmal black eyes tormented. What the hell is happening? He was the one who’d brought us there, delivered us to the Order, into the Regent’s hands. He wasn’t supposed to feel like he did, he wasn’t supposed to feel… constrained.

“Ladies and gentlemen” the Abbot began, his voice loud, rising unpleasant and penetrating above the music and the chatter. Both ceased in less than a second. Discipline.

“The Hall of Titans welcomes you”

The what?

“Your sanctuary, your home” he continued, uttering the words like a prayer.  “Tonight is a special night, offered to you by our leader, our general, our father”

Frantic applause filled the arena before he got to speak the name. Raising his voice over all again, he motioned largely toward the biggest loge across the hall, centered above the main entrance.

“Vincent de Morangias”

I brought the sight into focus. And there he stood, the elegant figure of the Regent, his thick brown hair swept back, his eyes intelligent and quick. With what wanted to be a modest smile but a smug attitude, he put a hand up as if to stop the crowd’s showering their appreciation at him. Vincent de Morangias. So that’s the name

I stiffened as my eyes fell on the man on his right. I recognized him instantly, the broad stature, the strong jaw line, the silky black mane, the cutting eyes – the mighty Boris Grabianko. The Abbot’s voice addressing the crowd sank into the background, fading from meaning, and my ears began to buzz. The past was closing in on me, memories hit me like painful flashes: the blood, Paulina’s and Raluca’s mutilated bodies, the hilt Ivan had wielded inside of me… A chill coursed down my spine at that memory.

My eyes swept farther along the faces in the loge, over the golden eyes of Rasko ‘the Pimp’ Varn – Aimee’s mate, if I can call him that. Slightly behind him I spotted the long, graceful Valentina Grabianko – Ivan’s sister and the only one of them I could have almost called ‘friend’ at the mansion. She was dressed in an elegant, brown-red cocktail dress, her rich hair up in a braided chignon, her high brow and her dark eyes shadowed by a nameless sin – one I alone knew.

And then I saw one other face by Boris’s side, one I least expected to see – Loredana the ‘blonde Barbie’, stretching those thin lips of hers in a victorious grin, her big blue eyes fixed on me, glittering as ever. She was hungry for the show. As she was to see me playing the main part, ending most probably in pieces. A sharp feeling cut its way through my chest. All this time she and Damian had been so close to each other… in the same Nucleus, attending the same events, probably sharing the same roof… the same bed. She had it bad for him, she’d hit on him right before my eyes, while he was still my husband. Maybe she’d succeeded in the end, with me out of the picture… Maybe that’s why she was here, as his… mate. Maybe that’s why Damian never tried to find me… Anxiety gripped me and tears found their way lightly down my cheeks.

My own name ringing in my head was what brought me back to the Abbot and his impassioned speech to the crowd.

“Aurelia Novac – Queen of Hearts – is our guest. She will be staying with us, as the Executioner’s concubine, and aid us in our endeavours of localizing the demiangel Nucleuses”

“She’s a demiangel, spill her guts!” a voice protested from the crowd.

“Nail the bitch to a cross!” another one urged, shrill and sharp.

“Ladies and gentlemen” the Abbot defended “there is reason for this measure…”

“This is unheard of!” another voice.

“Preposterous!” yet another one. Some kind of Hannibal Lecter, holding a crystal glass with something that looked like Brandy. I didn’t want to imagine what it actually was, I blocked out the thought.

Increasing chatter and movement, violins subtly filled the air again, to calm the spirits. Fear and disdain clenched my stomach.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please!” the Abbot raised his voice again and put up his hands. “The union between the Executioner – one of our own – and the Queen of Hearts is vital. This is control…”

The crowd grew restless, slowly drowning the Abbot’s voice. Obviously not used to this effect, he started to despair, his lips twitching, until the Regent suddenly chose to ease his strain. His powerful voice filled the hall, silencing all chatter, even the music scratched abruptly over the last notes, falling quiet.

“Listen!”

Hundreds of heads turned to him.

“Have I ever given you reason to doubt me or my decisions?” there was anger in his voice and threat in his eyes. “You shall have your crucifixion, but it shall not be Aurelia Novac, not tonight”

Crucifixion

The Regent continued, his voice even but resonant.

“This union brings service to our cause, I wouldn’t have agreed to it otherwise”

Agreed… He made it sound as if it had been my idea and before I could blink he went on and confirmed my fears. And added to them.

“This woman, this Queen of Hearts, has lost her own soul to the Executioner. It was she who found a way to approach me and offered the Order her services in return for a union with him, something her Nucleus would have never accepted and something the Executioner himself wouldn’t have agreed to without some incentive”

Though I’d expected such filthy, deceitful propaganda from the Regent’s part after our little chat, I now stared blankly in his direction. The idea that hundreds of demidemons, Damian among them, would believe me in love with the Executioner and him cold to my advances made my head boil with anger I couldn’t express. A wide, gray haze of feelings whirled inside of me – the aching need for Damian, the despair for the others’ safety, the choking fear, jealousy, quaking shock and now this… anger. The Regent went on with a wicked grin, as if he sensed what was going on inside me. And relished in it, giving me the last blow.

“This union will be permanent. This is clear for all of you and I hope it is now so for the Queen of Hearts, as well. Breaking this union is breaking an unspoken oath and would be considered high treason”

High treason… What the hell is he talking about?

He grinned again, his flickering eyes now fixed on me. I knew they were, I was focused on him like a sniper, now my heart stinging with yet a new feeling that added to the whirl – the certainty that his following words were aimed exclusively at me. He spoke in the frequency of threat.

“We demidemons have rules and principles, too. A union is, for us, a highly intimate partnership in all things, and fidelity ensures that only our mates know our most intimate secrets. It helps act efficiently as a team in battles, be they strategic of physical, and through century long observation the Order has indeed determined, that a couple becomes a deadly team, much stronger and much more versatile than one individual alone. A union is, however, a hard decision for us, since feelings of affection are not exactly what we’re best at and we cherish our freedom. But once done, it cannot be undone and unfaithfulness is severly punished. As you all know, I’ve punished my own mate, Dolores Calderon, for having broken her oath to me. Because rules are for each and every one of us, no matter how highly positioned and how valuable. Tonight, another example will be made and I recommend our newest member, the Queen of Hearts, to mind it well”

With those words, his eyes left my face and nodded to someone on his right as if signalling approval. As the cherry red curtains rustled apart behind me, the crowd turned and their frowned, displeased expressions relaxed in avid grins. Alarmed, I turned, too, and froze.

Hector was hanging naked on a high, massive cross, his wrists and ankles nailed to it. Blood had already solidified around the bolts, turned dark like hard magma, his olive skin blending with the bronze of the cross. He shivered, in pain, fully aware… his head pinned back, his russet eyes wide, jaw tight – to keep the swearing to himself, I sensed. He didn’t want to give these demons the satisfaction of his suffering.

“Ladies and gentlemen” the Regent’s voice resounded again from the loge, “I give you Hector Mendoza, the man who makes himself guilty of high treason, having seduced my mate or fallen prey to her seduction. Whether he was the seducer or the seduced is irrelevant, since to us, to the Order, the victim is as guilty as the felon and, therefore, this man will endure statutory punishment. It was the Queen of Hearts who brought him for our justice”

What! Publicly making me responsible for Hector’s misery! Tears of despair flooded my eyes, I jolted forward, calling Hector’s name, wanting to expose the filthy lie, but the Abbot’s hands gripped my shoulders, blocking me. I could no longer move, each step forward only taking me backwards like in those exasperating dreams I used to have as a child. Hector slowly lowered his head and looked into my eyes with… trust. Fully opening himself to me, he let me feel it clearly – he knew I hadn’t betrayed him or any of the others, he saw right through the Regent’s ploy. Of course! He was a Knight of Hearts Core, he sensed all emotion. No one could shield him out.

He gave a smug grin and turned his glare to the Regent’s loge, laughing in defiance against the starkly white spotlight.

“C’mon, shitface, send me to her” he called, the veins in his throat swelling, “Send me to her arms, she’s missed me for too long”

I sensed the Regent taking the sight in, his eyes glittering with revenge, but Hector was determined to go down with the Regent’s stained honor and wounded heart.

“Oh, not just yet, Knight of Hearts” the Regent countered hoarsely, “You’ve taken delight in her arms for too long, you’ve wronged me and you’ve wronged the Order. Now it’s only fair that we should take delight in returning the favour”

He bared his teeth in a mocking, indeed delighted grin and signalled with his right hand toward us, towards the stage.

“Executioner” he called, “you may proceed”

Completely shocked, I turned to a tense Ivan, his black eyes fixed on me in a pleading expression. Asking for forgiveness, as if he’d been left no choice. So this is what’s been going on all along, he’d been assigned with taking Hector’s life.

As if drawing from some pool of strength I only seemed to have access to in extreme situations, I broke through his defenses and plunged deep into his emotions, feeling like a rapist. But it was the only option, the only way I could know and the only way I could stop him. And there it was, the taste his last discussion with the Regent and… and my Blacksmith had left in his heart. The business. He would… he would torture Hector until he’d beg for his own death. No! I bounced toward him but the Abbot, still close behind me, gripped me again and kept me back.

“Keep your mouth shut or the others will share his fate” he breathed threateningly in my ear.

There is no frequency low enough to elude a demi’s senses and I’m sure those other monsters could have heard him if they’d tried or… been interested. But now all faces were gaping in anticipation at crucified Hector, eyes thirsty for the torture, for the blood… ‘Or the others will share his fate’… I swept the place in an anxious glance, hoping to recognize the friends I’d dragged here, chasing like a mad cow a message I’d hoped came from the man who possessed my heart, all my thoughts and my dreams – Damian, the Blacksmith. Damian, the High Seraph. A monster, a demon, an instrument of hell. Hate him!

And then I saw him. By the entrance on the right from the stage, those steely eyes with bright green shades glowing devilishly at me. My heart skipped a beat and my breathing stopped. Damian watched me intently, standing like an angel of hell indeed among a clutch of his men – all members of the Cleric. They held tight grips on the arms of three struggling figures with ragged clothes and angry, but powerless expressions. I recognized Sidonia’s bright azure eyes, their edges reddened with despair. Salma struggled and cried, her curls flying angrily in all directions. And Jarred ‘Goldilocks’… he’d been beaten, an ugly cut crossed his cheek, but apparently it still took four men to hold him in place. The three people in the world I still called my friends… the three people I came to care so much about, the gentle, sweet souls that had seen me through all this time without him, that had helped me bear the hole in my heart.

A sharp whizz made my head snap back to the cross and the crucified Hector. A thick slash between his ribs, leaving red meat mingled with bone gaping back at the expectant spectators, who sighed in delight. Hungry for more… Hector growled through gritted teeth, eyes scrunched shut. My stomach turned, I let out a scream, suppressed by the Abbot’s hand over my mouth. He drew me to the side, behind the curtain folds and away from the eyes of the crowd. I could still see Hector from one side, looking so vulnerable, so… human as the stark spotlight fell on him, revealing the wounds the Executioner inflicted on him with each swing of a short, curved dagger with dents that bit sharply into his flesh. His fingers curled in an attempt to ball his fists but failed, shaking with pain. The veins in his neck swelled, he pinned his head back once more.

“Shit! You fucking shitbag!” he howled, his resolve not to add to those mosters’ entertainment with cries and terror fading in front of laceration.

The Executioner looked at him with a mixture of obvious regret and hooded pleasure. Regret, knowing I’d resent him for this. Pleasure, because he so fully enjoyed what he was doing but tried to hide it. Another swing cut a slice of Hector’s abdomen. I gasped, horrified, but the Abbot’s hand pressed harder against my mouth, against my bones, stifling all sound. Hector howled in pain once more, then his chin fell to his chest, his eyes fluttering shut into unconsciousness.

Cheered by the crowd, the Executioner kept slashing at him as if he were lifeless meat hanging from a hook, leaving widely gaping wounds in the blade’s wake. Anger and horror accumulated in my chest and my skin creased at each slash, soothed only by a strange feeling of relief knowing that Hector’s brain was protecting him from perceiving that torture – he’d blacked out. I wondered how come the experienced Executioner had let that happen… but then I sensed it. He was open to me, he let me feel that – spurred by hope for forgiveness – he’d done it on purpose. He was keeping my… friend from suffering. Oh, and against all odds, Hector had proven a good friend. He’d followed into the lion’s mouth, full of trust, no questions asked. He’d followed me. This is my fault.

Tears flowed soundlessly down my cheeks as I watched this friend slowly die a lacerating death, paralyzed and aghast. All my fault.

“Enough!” the Regent’s voice called. I couldn’t see him, or anyone but the stage.

The Executioner stopped abruptly. He glanced anxiously at me and, probably at the Regent’s signal, he left the stage. Applause, although not too enthusiastic, and laughter. Those monsters weren’t fully satisfied, the victim hadn’t endured the butchering ‘live’.

Strong, heavy steps, as if from a S.W.A.T. team approaching – again, most probably at the Regent’s rule. My heart leapt into my mouth as Damian appeared in the spotlight, followed by four of his men, who pulled out the bolts from Hector’s wrists and ankles bare-handed. As the men took Hector down, Damian’s eyes were fixed on his unconscious face. His eyes, glowing cold and emotionless, yet beautifully. So very beautifully. Damn it, he’s a monster!

“High Seraph” the Regent spoke again. Damian didn’t react immediately, kept his eyes on Hector for seconds, then slowly turned to face the hall. From the obscurity of backstage, with no one to notice, I saw that perfectly carved profile clearly, I drank it in. The Abbot was behind me, he couldn’t see my face – which was a relief, since I surely wasn’t in control of my gaping. Damn it, dumb bimbo! Gasps and sighs of admiration in the hall, all female. An unnerving surge of jealousy fired in my cheeks as I realized the effect he had… The same on as good as all women.

“Oh, he is indeed as handsome as Lucifer himself” the Abbot whispered. I can’t tell if to himself or to me, but I didn’t have to look at him to sense the fascination and conviction in his voice. The Abbot… the Abbot, he knew so much… But I didn’t have the strength to try and loosen his tongue now, my mind and heart were completely taken with that devil who made all women’s hearts swell. Hate him!

“See him to the forge” the Regent continued, “but make sure he wakes. Make sure he feels every strip of skin you peel and every slice of flesh you cut from his body”

My own skin creased at the voracity in his tone and at what he took for granted that Damian would do. Damian Novac drains them of their body fluids, pulls out their organs and skins them‘He’s one of the most brutal’, Ivan had once told me.

Damian gazed in the Regent’s direction, his eyes shimmering bright and turquoise in the white light, his skin like mild bronze, his hair wild, raven. A cruel monster, hate him!

“I’m no torturer” Damian said, his voice deep, controlled.

Loud gasps of surprise all over the hall. A sharp gasp of shock tightly behind me, coming from the Abbot. Damian was defying him. He was defying the Regent.

“High Seraph, this is not a request” the Regent pressed just as controlled, threat and anger yet lurking in his tone.

I stared. I couldn’t even blink.

Damian just stood there for moments, the leathered Cleric uniform adding to his unyielding demeanor. I could barely hear a breath in the hall and I was almost sure all were in shock with his guts. My senses captured a wide range of emotions, from deepest admiration to affronted and annoyed spirits, to… lust for his naked body to arch between their legs, all those women… I shuddered hard and shook the picture violently out of my head.

As Damian eventually turned, one of his men slung Hector on a shoulder as if he were made of feathers. The Abbot leapt from behind me right onto the stage, spreading his arms widely and grinning a large grin, his egghead glinting in the spotlight as he replaced the men in the public’s attention. He addressed the crowd more like a buffoon than anything else, while Damian motioned his men to follow him.

I shrank, realizing he was going to come my way. In an instant, a thousand thoughts swirled in my head – he was going to see me, I was going to see him. I was going to talk to him, finally get the chance to explain… Or he’d shove me out of his way and take Hector to the forge and finish him… Hector… Damian was going to drain his body of all it had to give, and then turn his muscles into the hardest metal the world has ever known. But Hector still drew breath… Destiny was giving me a chance to make it right again. I couldn’t give up on him, not while there was still the slightest chance…

In an impulse, I concealed myself sinking in the cherry folds of the curtain. They were soft, they received and enveiled my body like thick, welcoming waves of fabric.

As Damian and his men passed me, that unique smell of rock and metal emanated from Hector’s now open body attacked my nostrils. I shuddered again, fought to suppress tears. I had to see clearly, I couldn’t afford one instant of haze.

They walked by the obscure backstage to the corridor outside the hall. Instinctively and without a thought, I climbed off my stilletos, and, on the tip of my toes, I rushed after them.

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

To be continued…

Copyright by Ana Calin 2013, Berlin.

***

Hope you enjoyed this episode from Cries of the Blood and stay tuned for episode 8, coming up on Saturday. IT WILL BE SPECIAL, VERY 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 the episodes previous to this one at Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7 Part1.  

Don’t miss episode 8, coming up on Saturday. IT WILL BE VERY 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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