Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lineage Cover

Last weekend I had an awesome cover reveal party for my up coming Young Adult Paranormal book, Lineage.

The party was amazing, the guest authors were awesome, and the prizes were fabulous and the whole reason we all gathered.
This beautiful cover.
I have always wanted to do an illustrated cover and though it didn't turn out the way I had imaged it, the end result is just amazing. It turned out like a dark tarot card and I love it.

Catch Lineage next month just in time for Halloween.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Shadowed Intentions Chapter Two

Only three days and counting until Serenity and Cret go on tour, to get ready here is another chapter from book three, Shadowed Intentions.

***Content below is for ADULTS, 18+***

Opsona Journey Series Book Three
Shadowed Intentions

Guilty realization was the first thing that hit me. I couldn't comprehend what my actions had caused. How they continued to ripple outward affecting Serenity's world. That night I stabbed her my life iced over depriving me of any real existence. I remained in that state for so long until the extreme reaction to a world without her dulled into a set habit of living, if you could call it living. Now I was struck with the reality of what I had done to her, the hell I had awoken Serenity to.

I had been so hopeful when we first encountered each other in the city, hopeful that her memory of me had been lost. Clearly the gods didn't see it fit to grant me that small favor, when and how she remembered didn't matter. Now I had to face the sin I committed against my raven beauty and it was shattering me.

"You changed me," she growled. Hot violent venom dripped off every word enticing my demon to act.

The violence in her voice tugged at it, he loved violence. It was the only language my demon-self spoke and Serenity expressed it with an elegant fluidity. The idea of her expressive nature aroused erotic thoughts instead of the cautious awareness I needed in coming battle. I couldn't lose control now. I hadn't lost control of my demonic side since my younger years when my emotions ruled me more than logic and reason, but I could feel my iron grip slipping. She was drawing it out and my anger was aiding the process.

I wasn't angry at Serenity, not anymore. I felt too much anguish over her predicament, the thoughts of all those long years she lived feeling this way. Trapped by my actions in a hell no other could understand. I was a bastard. Not even her disregard for the living and the pleasure she sought in watching the people below suffer could stifle my misery.

If I was honest—I too derived some type of sick pleasure out of watching that city burn. A release from a small portion of my duty by the tragedy below—that was the demon in me. A nature I could not control or hide from. Those blood-stilling howls from down below was making it worse, this dark pull I was feeling from her…From us. I would lose myself if I wasn't careful.

Would that be so bad?

I ignored the voice in my mind that tempted me, focusing instead on my self-hatred to keep control. I had a second chance at something with Serenity, we were the same, torn between two worlds that would never take us in—a world we destroyed together. I couldn't let her or the mortal world suffer like this. I still had some sense of duty left. If only we had been on the same side of this battle, then maybe I wouldn't be standing here full of anger and heartbreak for what I had to do next. Fate is so cruel.

Turning to face her we locked gazes, a knowing settled in her scarlet eyes. We were evenly matched, I knew it. By the way Serenity's brows narrowed on me she knew it too. The only advantage I had in battle I couldn't use, not with my strength weakened by the fight to escape and the blood she took. No, there would be no slipping into shadows in my state, which left me with the direct approach. Skill against skill but my heart wanted none of it.

The thought of this battle had me bewildered and at the mercy of the demon growing in excitement with each tension filled second that passed. He wanted this, his needs were so simple. The complex range of human emotions had no effect on him. It was his desires itching in the back of my head, a little whisper of persuasion pushing me to make the first move. That would be foolish. With two skilled warriors like us the battle was either won or lost in the first attack, and I didn't want that burden. If I made the wrong move, if my attack failed and left me shaken then I would be the one left dead on this hill.

I could give her that.

If my death would bring Serenity peace maybe being defeated would be worth it, I had already failed Rhea. Lost the city she loved so much—what was left for me beyond this? A long life under the mercy of the Opsona and without Serenity…No.

My father's blood bubbled under my flesh, the demon didn't like that idea. My thoughts only threw it into a rage to break free of my grasp. I felt its foolish need to start this affair as my body changed under its own will. The adrenaline coursing through my veins in preparation for the battle ahead. Powerful and strong, my muscles bulked out and became more defined. Fangs grew from my upper and lower jaws, hungry to taste Serenity's flesh, either in blood thirsty battle or sexual conquest, it didn't matter. Just the thought of her sweet olive skin coated in salty perspiration trapped between my fangs had me growing erect at the most inappropriate moment yet.

All of me wanted her. My demon didn't care how, but I couldn't take her like this. She was full of resentment and hurt, the knowledge of who I was—what I had done had sent her into a state compromised by rage. By all rights Serenity was justified and blinded by her revenge driven desires, but I wouldn't take advantage of that. I wouldn't let my demon take advantage of this situation. If it had its way Serenity would be ours before the night was through. Ravaged by the primitive beast that didn't know how to communicate in a civil way. He would claim what he regarded as his despite any protests. No, I couldn't let that happen. I wasn't that much of a bastard.

Damn if she didn't look enticing. Those raven waves of tussled hair bending to the sweeping winds, scarlet eyes which deepened with savagery causing my dick to twitch. She wanted this battle, who was I to deny her needs?

 "Are you really committed to this?" I asked to my demon's protest, offering Serenity a chance to end this before it began.

I watched her for a long moment, steady, thin drops of rain started to fall from the saturated clouds above, and it was then I noticed the shift in her scent carried along the growing winds. The once subtle fragrance of lavender that mingled with the more dominant sage now overpowered even the heavy scent of the coming storm. Her sweet nectar assaulted my senses with lustful distraction causing the demon within to groan with a strange need for obedience. I felt my knees tremble and weaken, an urge to bow before her—this goddess. To drop to my knees and beg for Serenity to make me a servant of her will overwhelmed my reason.

What is happening?

Flexing my wrists into circles and rolling my neck I tried to loosen the odd provoking sensation, as those full lush lips of hers twitched into the most devious smirk. By the gods I could devour that mouth.

That smirk told me everything. She was committed. No stopping now, "till death." Her words whispering over from a subtle gap in her mouth creating fantasies of pleasurably tortured moans drawn from her. Panted breaths escaping from between those soft kiss-swollen lips.

Get control Cret!

My mind's rational voice fell on deaf ears as the fantasies intensified of that mouth of hers devouring everything I would allow. Images of her kneeling before me, taking my size to the depths of her throat with each savage thrust.

Priorities! The voice screamed again giving me back a fraction of sense. I hoped it would be enough to fight against her draw.

Reality suspended for a moment, the storm silenced and hushed waiting on a baited breath. It was here. That brief moment before action. It lived within the fractioned beat of a heart, and remained until the battle's end. Pausing all the world in a single set point in time, pressuring each party to act.

Lavender drifted toward me again, stronger than before and I knew what was happening. That scent, it was her creature. The raging instinct Serenity gave herself over to in battle. I had noticed it when I studied her in the past. Normally the lavender was like a faint ghost that trailed the sage, but in battle—lost within the intensity of combat it grew in strength. Still it had never been this strong before, Serenity was no longer in control. A notion which left me guarded and heated.

Lightning flashed through the sky silhouetting her elegant figure, and then she was gone from sight. I lost her. Panic gripped me for a second before I could make out something rushing in my direction.

The once restrained excitement now flooded through me, rushing the world forward as she grew closer. Serenity dipped into a low stance just before reaching me and then launched upward to strike. A fist heading toward my chin, followed by a knee aimed at my gut. This was pathetic, a timid assault to feel me out. I grabbed her wrist with ease stopping her from making contact and blocked the knee with my other hand.

If she wanted to toy with me I would play along. In a second I had her turned in my arms, restrained and pulled back against my chest causing an involuntary groan to leave my mouth. That heated body of hers was just too much to keep my appetite suppressed. Yes, I want this.

Serenity jerked in my grasp in refusal, the lavender growing even more intense making my demon whimper. I need this.

Pain crept up from my foot where Serenity had dug her heel into bone, and I snarled in warning as it twisted into sick teasing pleasure. She could hurt me all she wanted, my tolerance was high and the demon loved it. So perfect.

Serenity jerked again in my iron grip, her desperation bringing me to life. This battle was just a game so far, a playful banter between two animals. My warrior reason fleeting under my demon's command. The traitor.

We had always worked so well together, in complete sync. My father's blood provided support when I needed it, gave me the strength that I needed, and in turn I let it run wild from time to time. Allowing its inhuman needs to be satisfied, and now it was taking over. Ungrateful bastard.

Pain ran through my hip this time, Serenity had managed to get one arm free in my distraction. Clawing at whatever she could reach, her attempts only brought me closer to the edge and I responded with a moan as the feeling dulled into a sick shiver of wanton seduction. Focus, my warrior mind screamed and I released her with a forceful shove, needing distance between us before I became unhinged.

Raindrops grew heavier, beating down and soaking our bodies. The cool droplets restrained the feverish heat in my veins from burning straight through. Sweet metallic notes mingled with the storm surge causing my chest to heave with labored breath from the pure primal desire clawing to get out. I couldn't keep this up for long, her allure was far too strong.

What is it about her? I tried for some type of answer, anything that would make sense out of this insanity by settling my gaze on the shadowy voided presence that encircled her. Typically I required light and actual formation of a shadow to read a person, but Serenity's shadow was always visible. That unique characteristic one I had only seen on her and Vondorian, but what I glimpsed gave me nothing but more questions.

Usually Serenity's shadowed self was smoky in color, dense and thick with ribbons of violet and subtle orange weaving through. Now the smoky color was so thick I could no longer see through to the landscape beyond and only violets twisted around, the ribbons of color turning into a strangling enclosure around the rest, leaving no orange visible and very little of the smoky base. What was happening inside of her right in this moment, I had never seen anything like it before.

Serenity rushed me again closing the distance I had put between us, this time she didn't strike with some halfhearted attempt to test me. The battle had really begun. Using her claws like a weapon she slashed at me in quick secessions, mad fury driven swipes raced between us in a dance of sensual violence. Some I blocked, others I let make contact with my flesh deriving pleasure from the little pricks of pain where cuts appeared. It drove my arousal to the breaking point. I countered a few attacks, my own claws dripping with her intensely rich blood making this moment all the worst for rational authority.

The gods' storm rumbled above in protest and lightning intensified the charge between us, unleashing a torrent of water that soaked the valley.

This is mine! The demon within me growled.

It had a voice. It never had a voice before, only grunts and groans with basic emotions or desires I could feel. It's speaking.

The thought frightened me enough that I lost focus, Serenity's claw sliced across my shoulder. The searing irritation quickly had my mind back on the battle. I trapped her against me in a flash of movement, her chest pressed against my front, arms pinned under mine at her sides. Serenity shifted and struggled against my restraint and I couldn't fight it any more. My lips slammed into hers.

I need you, the demon growled with its newfound voice.

Twisting my legs around hers I gave a push to throw Serenity off balance, sending her tumbling backward to the ground as I devoured her mouth. I followed the fall of her body, and pinned that small curvy frame of hers beneath mine as I forced my hunger upon her. The battle now forgotten.

Serenity's struggled refusal melted away, welcoming my tongue into her hot mouth and caused my heart to leap with excitement. She was accepting me. Triumph pushed my actions now easing my grip on her body I teased a fang over her lip before taking that mouth once more. A moan passing from my lips and against hers, I took what was mine.

She moaned in response to the second assault and kissed back with more force than I had, my chest rumbled in protest at her advances to overthrow my dominance. Gripping her shoulders I allowed my blade sharp nails to pierce lightly through her soft flesh in both warning and to scent the air with fresh blood.

I pushed deeper into the kiss nipping my fangs at her swollen lips when my vision went white. A deep burn radiated from my side and became the most intense physical agony I had ever felt. Breaking the kiss, my body spasmed from the sudden shock causing my claws to clap down on Serenity, breaking through flesh to bone as she cried out.

My body bucked up in reaction to the new sensation putting a little distance between our entangled bodies, the pain growing as I moved. A tugging feeling drew my attention down where Serenity had buried a clawed hand deep in my right side, it felt like she penetrated completely threw my body. Rejection tingled in the physical pain.

Bitch! The intense new voice of my demon roared inside my mind, the rest of me was too blinded by the numbing discomfort.

My eyes focused back on Serenity and the deep endless scarlet of her eyes started to dim, the scent of lavender weakened as the sage slipped back. Her lips trembled, her hardened gaze softened and blood pooled from the corner of her lips sending panic into my heart. Reality crashed back into the moment and I looked down between us again.

Without a thought—a pure instinctual reaction from my wounded pride, I had drawn that special amber dagger and thrust it into her heart. The baited breath of battle the had hung around us now released tightening my chest with disbelief. This couldn't be real. This wasn't happening again. I looked back to her face for some type of reassurance but there was nothing but struggle. The color draining from her skin leaving the blood that trickled from her lips so rich in contrast, it was really happening. This was real, not another nightmare.

I withdrew the weapon with haste. Her body jumped a little and a gasp of pain left her lips. I didn't care if it caused pain it had to be removed before any permanent damage could be done. I fell back on the grass and drew Serenity into my arms. There was no life without her. It had to be done, that duty drive rationale inside my head spoke up. I didn't listen.

Pushing my hand into Serenity's wound I tried to stop the bleeding, just until she started to regenerate then everything would be fine. Her body could recover from this, she had before.

The bright scarlet of her eyes evaporated into a muted pink and her head fell limp to the side, I could feel her heart as I pressed harder. The beats becoming slower, the space between each pump growing.

"No, no, no, no. Look at me Serenity, you can't give up," I pleaded with her, anguish riddled tears threatening at the back of my eyes.

Pushing her face to look at me I offered her my wrist, my blood would help her pull through this and she could have it all. Every ounce of it. Serenity could drain me into death, I didn't care. I couldn't live in a world without her—not again.

Serenity's head fell limp to the side again and the lush red of her lips iced to a purple. It was happening so fast this time. I forced my wrist toward her lips but they only trembled with a death chill. No, this can't happen.

 Bringing my wrist to my fangs I bit down to draw blood, maybe she needed to smell it, the scent of fresh blood was like a drug to a vampire. She wouldn't be able to refuse this time.

Forcing my gashed wrist toward her I knew she would drink. My blood trickled down onto her lips and then she was gone from my arms. Something had pulled me back, ripped me away from her. Stunned I tumbled on the ground not completely aware of what was happening, my world was still dazed with worry.

Serenity… it was the only thought that crossed my mind when I regained myself. Scrambling to my feet I turned to meet Vondorian's glare. Serenity cuddled in his arms as he drew her close to his chest. Relief and jealousy took the place of my panic, he would take care of her. I hated the man but I knew he could save her since I couldn't.

Vondorian glanced my way for the briefest of moments before they both disappeared. Vanished into the stormy night like some type of nightmarish fairytale creature, leaving me to my suffering. What have I done?


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fated Betrayal Chapter Two

Only five days until the Opsona Journey Series goes on tour!
What better way to get ready then to have another look into Fated Betrayal, book two.

***Content below is for ADULTS, 18+***

Opsona Journey Series Book Two
Fated Betrayal

Eerie reverence echoed off the marble walls of the large community room inside this sacred temple. Distant chants of monks swept through the space and brought hope with their words and harmonic voices, raising up into the open vaulted ceiling. That haunting melody reflected off windows of thick colored glass displaying the stories of creation. Colorful murals of gods and goddesses covered polished marble walls and the large pillars that divided the massive space. The world felt right inside of this place, whole and pure, it was no wonder Serenity refused to enter with me. I didn't want her here anyways, this place was too holy for something like her.
The wounded filled every inch of the room, spilling over into the hallways that branched off into the various parts of the temple. So much pain and hurt in one place. The evil that gripped onto this valley was destructive, draining all the light and color from the mortal world. Yet despite the despair that lingered among the city walls this place was left untouched. Free of the fear and heartache, and the dark reaches of Serenity and her armies. None of it entered here, not in this holy place.
A shudder a discomfort ran down my back like it did every time I entered this temple, it was another warning. This one not from the evil that settled into Tentusa, but from the divine that guarded this place. The ground beneath my feet was holy, blessed by the highest of beings and the magic that lingered here could sense my muddled heritage. A stained mark on my otherwise pure Opsona blood. Even though my intentions were honorable, the higher powers which guarded this place still offered their warning.
One I acknowledged by bowing my head in respect as I approached the main altar which extended across the backside of the chamber. On it was an array of items: freshwater pearls from the lake of Rouren, meat freshly butchered, flowers from the rolling hills, and a few other oddities and luxuries all placed at the feet of the largest statue in the temple. A recreation of the Peace Goddess, a beauty with long flowing hair adorned with weeping vines from the Willioumos trees that grew in the cove to the south. They were a symbol of her virtue, her gift to the world, peace and harmony. She was no doubt the beacon of light that had wrapped this structure in its protective embrace. The offerings at her feet incentive to bring about the end of this dark ordeal these people had found themselves entangled in.
Serenity was here which only meant this place was marked for conquest. The vampires had been trying to overrun the mortal world for centuries like all the other dark creatures trapped in their own decaying realms. The last time I met Serenity, the Vampire Nation had lost all form of subtly and marched on the mortal provinces with their new powerful general at the head. She was unstoppable, unchallenged, until I dispatched her from this life.
We were approaching ninty-seven years since that day. Ninty-seven years since I plundged my dagger into Serenity's beating heart, and waited until it stalled. How did you survive? A troubling question to add to the mounting pile of worries that had flooded my mind. Among them was the vampires' new approach to their end goal. There had been no news of vampire or any other strange activity in the mortal world, which only meant the vampires' methods for conquest had shifted. They no longer marched in the open, or tried to overwhelm the mortal population with their growing numbers. In fact there had been no talk of vampires for decades, yet here they were. By the looks of it their plans to infect this world hadn't been diverted at all with Serenity's fall in battle.
But how did they go unnoticed?
The only way it was possible was if the neutral territories had been attacked first. The mortal world was divided among the seven siblings of the first royal family ever established in human history. Each one had a province with their own natural resources shared among the other six. It ensured cooperation between the different family branches through the generations. The lands that could not be settled upon in the division became their own free territories, often controlled by the lesser of proper society. Warlords, rouges, bandits, and other people that were less than honorable. It was in these strife riddled places the vampires could operate unnoticed, as long as they didn't stray outside of those areas.
Now it looked as though they had finished with the unclaimed lands and were moving into the provinced kingdoms. It was sly and lowly of them but I had to admire it. Out of all the creatures lurking in the Underworld realms, vampires were the most intelligent. Still with their attention moving to these more peaceful lands their presence would no longer go unnoticed. It was a thought that should have eased my troubled mind about the threat of vampire domination, but instead it worried me further because it meant they were ready to strike.
If Serenity was here in Tentusa then the Vamdari must have rebuilt their army, the most brutal and powerful of their kind. I had seen a fraction of their army overtake an entire race of warrior breed elves. They washed over them like an all consuming tsunami. No hesitation. No remorse. Just pure destruction driven forward by my mysterious raven beauty.
"The Shadowed Wanderer has returned to us." A large joyous voice boomed from beside me. I turned knowing it could only belong to one person. The only one that ever called me by that name.
"Magunis, a pleasure and honor like always." I greeted him with a low bow.
The old priest bounced his way toward me with his large stomach that protruded outward and often exaggerated his bouncy walk with a jiggle or two. Pure white hair surrounded the edge crown of his head, and traveled down along his face into a long braid which was decorated with shiny yellow beads to show his stature as High Priest. Robed in the same off-white garbs as all of the others, he embraced me in his large arms. The breath rushed right out of my slender frame as I was squeezed against that stomach of his.
"We have been saved," he exclaimed lifting me off the ground despite the fact I towered over him by half a foot. "I prayed to our Great Goddess to save us, and she sent you. Our hero!"
Cheers erupted from the wounded masses that had sought refuge in the temple, cries of joy and relief filling the room. Suddenly, the failed attempt at killing Serenity dragged my spirit down.
When I saw her there in the town I felt overjoyed. I knew what she was, I knew the darkness she harbored and the destruction she had once rained down on this world, and still I was joyed to see her. Selfishly delighted that I had failed and was now able to explore the strange attraction I had toward the vampire maiden, but my failed attempt now had me doubting my abilities. If I couldn't kill her what could I do to save these people?
And I had to save them, Rhea would have died trying to save her beloved Tentusa and I would do the same for her.
Magunis placed me back on my feet and I gasped for air, a lingering ache in my sides where his large arms had crushed me. "Please, I came to see her," I said, dropping the pleasured reunion with a solemn request.
I didn't have to say her name, nor did I want to. The thought of Rhea gone was not one I wanted to entertain. I couldn't. It would make it all to real, and it wasn't real until I saw the body.
Magunis nodded as his look of joy dropped with the sorrow of my request, and he motioned for me to follow him to the right of the altar. We made our way through a large wooden door that opened into a short hallway which narrowed into a staircase and then spiraled downward. Small candles placed in holes notched out of the old stone gave little light, because the dead didn't need it to find their way.
Below this whole valley was a massive network of chambers and tunnels that was all part of an ancient system carved out of the valley by a long lost Opsona Clan, the Fisargo. This portion, where the temple sat was the crypt, it was a place of peace for the dead and had been used over many generations. These stone chambers held the remains of nobility, a few royals, honored warriors who fell in battle, and anyone else whom earned a special place in these tombs.
The air grew thicker and chilled the farther we traveled down the darkened staircase, twisting around the worn brick walls until they turned into compacted dirt. Imprinted strokes from carving tools were still weathered into the dirt walls, little pieces of the past shining through to the present as we came to the bottom level. The stairs ended in a long tunnel which traveled to the left and right, narrowing into a faint glow at the end of each. It didn't matter which way you went, the harsh reality of mortality would be there to greet you.
That was not where Rhea was, Opsona were never buried in the ground nor held in some type of mausoleum. Our traditions called for ceremony and a fiery release from the physical form from which our souls would raise again to live on, but that would have to wait. I couldn't release Rhea until I avenged her untimely death, a promise that burned into my resolve as I watched a soft pulsing glow from a room just in front of us. She would be in there, the Dressing Chamber. It was where bodies were readied for their long sleep in the catacombs, adorned in the riches they couldn't take with them.
I felt Magunis' hand on my shoulder as he spoke breaking the deafening silence of the corpses. "I'll let you go first." I nodded without looking at him and headed for the small arch that led into the room only to halt at the threshold.
I needed to see for myself that she was gone, but I couldn't bring myself to cross into the chamber. I didn't want to know. If I didn't see her body, if I didn't touch her and know that Rhea was truly gone then it was like she was still out there. Rhea, the Great Elder gathering her scrolls and secrets, passing her knowledge on to those who would honor it. I could imagine her off to the far west, deep in the serene mounds of rolling sand that filled the wastelands. Searching for her next big secret, the proof to her wild theories and ideas… The eternal scholar.
Finally prepared I stepped into the room and the sight strangled every bit of life I had left me in. There she was, lifeless laying out on a stone slab. Candles placed all around her body in a shield of light, their wax running down onto the stone and pooling off onto the floor. I had never seen anything so startlingly beautiful with all its grim truths. Rhea was dead. My teacher…My master…My guide through the worlds cruelty. Gone from this existence so swift I couldn't even catch my breath at the thought.
I approached with uncertainty. They had clothed her in white, she would have hated that, and bowls of sweet rose water were placed near the candles to mask the scent of decay. This had to be some twisted nightmare I was being punished with. I reached out to touch her hand and I knew as a whisper of cold greeted my warm touch. It was confirmed now more definitively then before, she was gone. The mother I wished for was gone.
"How did this happen?" I asked choking back the tears that burned in the back of my throat. "How did all of this happen?"
I needed to know. Standing there in the city center and looking at the bonfire of corpses I didn't care about the details of the situation. I didn't care what was happening or what had gripped onto Rhea's beloved city. My only thought was getting to her. I knew once Rhea explained it, once I was in her council the world would be fine. We would face this danger together like we always had in the past, but now she was gone and I was alone with the demons of this world.
"She doesn't need your sorrow or rage Cret," Magunis consoled me from the entrance. "She needs an angel to help her home."
"No," I growled clenching Rhea's dead hand. "She needs this righted, and I will see it done."
Even if I need my whole-self to do it… My soul be damned! 


Monday, June 15, 2015

Immortal Tempest Chapter Two

Next week The Opsona Series is going on tour, and it is hosted by Raven. PA. To gear up for the big event I will be posting little bits here and there this week, and what better way to get started than with another chapter of Immortal Tempest, which is .99 Cents on Amazon right this very second. You guys can take a risk on me for .99 cents, right?

***Content below is for ADULTS, 18+***

Opsona Journey Series Book One
Immortal Tempest

Violent wind seeped through the cracks in weakened wood tickling the flames of each candle that lit the small room, tucked away in the abandoned house nestled behind one of the rolling hills that shielded us from the main city. Fierce unforgiving fire forced to dance against its will or risk the end of its life. How fitting. I watched the candle light struggle for survival. Once Vondorian returned, the young blond beauty lying in the old dusty bed would be doing the very same thing. Dancing to my master's illusion of love, passion, or whatever emotion his seduction would implant in her mind. He was the conductor, she would dance, and I would play the tune of destruction. His own private instrument of chaos. There was a time I might have been proud of that, rejoiced in the defeat of a mortal’s life. I would even take pleasure in it, now it was just a forced burden.
Her rosemary scent assaulted my heightened senses with relentless nausea. How could anyone stand that smell? She reeked of scented oils and imported perfumes. I would expect no less from the Lord's only child. No doubt his most cherished possession and I stole her.
“Pleased with yourself?” the smooth seductive voice of my master whispered from behind me. I couldn't help the pleased smile that spread across my lips, delighted that I had done his bidding and returned with his prize. Inwardly my conscience screamed at me, yelled to regain control knowing this was all wrong, but the pounding of his blood in my veins was too loud.
Turning, I longed to see his crimson eyes flutter with delight at what I had accomplished. His ice-cold grip was on my throat before I could catch sight of him, his nails digging at the back of my neck. A growl rushed out of my body as my back slammed against the wall. Instinct kicked in as I clawed at the arm that pinned me. The candlelight danced off his angled features, every curve of his alluring face caressed by violent flickering light. There was no delight in his eyes, the crimson glowed with fury.
“You disappoint, Serenity,” he growled my name baring long white fangs. “I told you to retrieve the girl, not cause a scene.”
His grip tightened against my throat cutting off my airway. Panic set in as I kicked in his direction, clawing at his arm for some form of release. The weak wood beneath my feet vanished, the bitter scent of vanilla overpowered that of the nauseating rosemary. Angry words flew from Master's full sinful lips, filling my blood with pure lust mixed with the panicked fear of oncoming suffocation. His voice was sharp words that I couldn't make out over the rapid panicked beat of my own terrified heart. He always appeared as a refined man, clothed in the finest attire that purposely pulled taunt across his firm youthful body. Accenting every fine detail that crafted this perfect devil, he never appeared older than his late twenties, but whispers said Vondorian had lived long before the current millennia. His long silky, silver hair was gathered into a ponytail, the color one he chose, which left me to question his appearance. Was this the vampire lord's real form, or just more glamoured magic to distort reality? The silver hue of his hair was a stark contrast to his deep rich sun-kissed complexion, and those dark crimson eyes that told the story of centuries.
Vondorian always towered over everyone in a room even if his six-foot frame fell short of another. That was the power he radiated. By stance alone my master gave off intimidation, but his mannerisms were gentle and graceful… A perfect gentleman. Mortals never saw this, his true nature before it could do them any good. His beautiful alluring violence that had my body aflame in the spinning darkness as my airway crushed under his iron cold grasp.
The world blurred, candlelight faded, even the howl of the violent wind couldn't pierce my darkening senses. A sensation of sailing filled my gut and then abruptly ceased with a harsh jerk as my body crashed into something that cracked and shattered. Splintered wood provided a resting place for my discarded form, panting for air I tried to gain some ground grasping onto the splinters beneath me. I welcomed the feeling as wood shards pierced my hand, bringing searing pain that focused my scattered nerves. It felt like hours had passed before my senses sharpened, adjusting to the dizzying spin of my head, when in reality this whole scene took place in a matter of breathless seconds. My own sage scent mixed with the vanilla, I could sense him now. Feel those soundless steps as he raced toward me for another attack. Even dulled to the point of vulnerability I could sense him, I didn't need my sight or hearing to warn me of his dominating presence. I felt him like a mother's instinct for their endangered child. Like a twin feeling the suffering of their other half, he was a part of me.
Kicking my right leg out it connected with something firm, a growl filled the room and I knew I had struck him. “There was a complication!” I yelled, finally able to open my eyes and see more than just blackness. My senses seemed sharper after the initial attack, drawn into fine focus by the creature inside insistent on living. I rushed his stumbling form, a foolish and inexperienced move but I had to show him I wasn't afraid. Slamming into his body we tumbled onto the floor and out of the room that held his sleeping prize.
“Your skills are slipping,” he argued back grasping at my wrists while trying to pin me to the ground. “You need more training. Every home is whispering about the abducted girl!”
“My skills are fine,” my reply short and sharp as I rolled us again.
He had ordered me hours ago to sneak into the manor that sat on the eastern edge of Tentusa and steal away Lord Davros's daughter. She was our means of entering into the Lord's home, everything rested on the unknown abduction of this young woman. Even as my mortal voice argued, howled, and pleaded with me to not follow his orders, my mind was completely under his bidding. So I took her, but I had made sure everyone knew she was missing. Master was right. After nearly three centuries of faithful master-servant relationship he was competing for my loyalty. Even with his blood coursing through my veins, being home made my defiant voice louder.
We rolled again and I was pinned, hands above my head, legs tucked under Master's and his weight baring down on me. His eyes flashed with lust, he loved these battles as much as he loved to control me. He delighted in my rebellious nature, my ability to say no to him even after my will had been weakened to the point of breaking.
“You. Are. Weak!” His words held a suggestion amidst a challenging tone that pulled at my inner creature. His body weighing down on top of me sparked a warmth within my core and I bit down on my tongue. Rich metallic notes rushed down my throat as I dug my fangs deeper into the meat. I needed the pain to focus. I couldn't get caught up in him.
He leaned down farther brushing those chilling soft lips against mine, I wanted to feel them. Images of what they could do to me flashed in my head. Promises he had once spoke aloud now held form inside my wildest imagination as he again invaded my mental walls, calling, tempting, seducing my every sense. I pressed my fangs down harder piercing completely through my tongue to regain control once again. I threw my midsection into the air arching my back, and sending us into another tumble along the splintered floor that creaked under our struggling bodies. This time I was on top. My nails dug into his wrists pinning them to the floor as I sat on his chest, bearing all my weight down on his unworldly strong form. It was a laughable sight, me with my average height and slight athletic build forcing myself down on a man twice my size.
“I am not weak!” I growled down at him. I tried to show anger in my eyes, but I knew they were too revealing by the way he grinned at me. My creature lusted for him the way he lusted for me. “I have this under control!"
“I highly doubt that,” he answered back. It was a challenge for redemption and a chance for him to prolong this battle. He enjoyed me here holding him down. He was allowing it, I knew my master too well. There was nothing stopping him from rolling us again even with all my immortal strength I could never subdue him. My suspicions were confirmed by the whirls of spiraling need that flexed in his eyes. A trickle of blood fell from the corner of my mouth, his eyes tracked the motion of the droplet that landed on his bottom lip. With a slow luxurious lap of his taunting tongue he collected the drop of crimson. A sensual whisper of a moan escaped his parted lips. "You're injured. Open your mouth."
"It has already healed," I replied.
"But I want to taste more."
Ignoring the intense heat of his gaze and the sexual ache his statement put inside of me, I explained my solution, “The rouges that live on the north island, they have a long running conflict with the Lord of Tentusa.” The plan for framing the rouges poured from my mouth like a general giving strategy to his king. I had to keep it professional.
“You attacked a young knight, battled with a handful of guards. How will they ever believe the rouges took her?” he asked, I sat there trying to find a response to assure him of my plan's success. Lost in thought I didn't notice one of his hands had left my grasp. His thumb glided along my lips tugging slightly to gain entry. I jerked back from his advances, but Vondorian's hand grasped the back of my neck and forced my face toward his, " I told you to open that beautiful mouth of yours."
My focus gone, fleeting with his suggestive motion. I wanted to pull away but I didn't get the chance. Master forced my lips against his hungry tongue, thrusting it into my mouth lapping up every bit of blood that lingered. I should have jumped off him, fled, but I couldn't bring myself to move. I had to prove that my will was stronger than his seduction. A mistake. My body began to shake from his hungry assault. I tried to steady myself, to stifle the tremble in my muscles but I couldn't.
You have to stop this!
I jumped to my feet when the reality of what was happening hit me. I was losing control, my strength was slipping with each tease of his skilled tongue. Master grabbed for me as I stood, I jerked out of his reach, and turned away to hide my crumbling resolve. "That's enough."
"I say when its enough."
"You gave me your word not to proceed without my consent." I reminded him flexing my fingers to still their rebellious quaking. If there was one thing that Vondorian was known for, aside from his brutality,  it was the honor of his sworn word. While the other lords dealt in false promises and meaningless oaths, Master kept his word at all costs. It was rare for him to pledge his word, but he had done so to me twice in my service to him.
Silence filled the room after my blatant reminder, but I could feel his gaze burning into me. Those crimson eyes fixed on my figure no doubt, his jaw clenched with a fang tugging at his lower lip, an agitated habit of his.
This conversation was over and I dared to take a step forward only be drawn back against his hard chest. His hands clasped around my arms with all the rage that was spilling over from our mental connection.
"And you gave your word to follow me without question. You swore me your loyalty." He hissed in my ear as his grip grew tighter. "Stray from my orders again and I may forget my manners."


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shadowed Intentions Chapter One

Today is the big Party!
You can join us on Facebook for some Awesome author takeovers and even better prizes.

To kick everything of right here is chapter one from Shadowed Intentions
 ***Content Below is for Adults 18+***

Opsona Journey Series Book Three
Shadowed Intentions

Tentusa burned below the rolling hills of sweet lemon grass. Even from the slopes on the western edge of the valley I could smell the alluring scent of pure terror. Mortal emotions wafting up from violent flames—fear, desperation, death. Tempting, tempting death. The bouquet of chaos sending chills of arousal through my chest and down to my curling toes. This was just a prelude to what was to come, tomorrow night it wouldn't just be the city in ruined flames, all of the valley would be destroyed. By week’s end the Vrasum Province would be nothing more than ashed corpses completely under my control. There was nothing that could stop me from taking what I wanted. Tentusa had fallen despite all the defenses that had gathered in the city—the gods feeble storm, Rhea, the mortal sensitive I took care of, and even my own sabotage couldn't stop this moment.
They were all minor stumbles along the path that had only one conclusion. Why did I even bother to prevent this? How could I not want this moment with all its perverse accolades? Even if the city’s demise was premature it was still a moment of pride that swelled in my chest.
That was my sin that burned below, something that would have paralyzed me with grief this morning but now filled me with accomplishment. The creature within that I constantly struggled against now had desires that I could align myself with. We both wanted the same thing, and it felt so powerful. I couldn't care less about Ryder's men washing through Tentusa like a violent pledge, nor how many lives would be lost because of what I did in those tunnels beneath the city.
Sliding my fingers over each other I groaned at the feeling of satin that slipped between them. Fresh blood—Vamdari blood wet my flesh with its darkly sweet aroma. Ryder's fear laced scent still clung to my body, bringing me to a high that needed to last.
"Are you enjoying this?" Cret asked with a type of sorrow in his throat. I didn't envy him that emotion, if I never felt anything but this pleasure again, that was fine. It was all I required.
I felt right for the first time in decades, lost in the twisted delight and depravity that had awakened within. Now with the reminder of his presence it was shattered, the ecstasy gone from the moment as I felt the heat of his body next to mine. He brought anger out in me that took the edge away from my high, flooding the rage right to the forefront of my mind. My creature was distracted by him, churning under my flesh like a caged, wounded animal wanting to attack. Not yet. I tried to soothe it, but we had every right to lash out.
I saw it there in his blood as it trickled down my throat, a memory I had lost, a memory of him and not a pleasant one. That single recovered moment was the key to all my suffering but pulled more attention to the recollection of his delicious blood, that rich honey taste of his still fresh on my lips. Running my tongue along the crack of my mouth I made sure I hadn't missed a single drop of his intoxicating blood. He tasted that good. A sinful sweetness I had never partaken before, it made me crave his death all the more, and the powerful knowledge it gave.
Cret's blood had freed me from that damn serum Vondorian made me drink, and I was thankful for that. The way he so openly gave himself over to me, but I wanted more. Not just of his darkly enticing blood but the secrets that were locked away inside his head. I gleaned so much from him in those swift moments as I drank, what could I learn if I took my time. Sipping from him in long, slow gulps, drawing out every last drop from his veins. The images had me panting with anticipation. I wanted his knowledge, his strength.
"You are enjoying this," he growled.
My fantasies of his death shattered, again he destroyed the moment and caused anger to replace it. His blood unlocked more than just my previous desires for his life-force, the second I took my first taste of him, memories unfolded before me—Cret's memories. Ones that included me. Suddenly I could place that familiar scent of honeyed-clove and those haunting emerald eyes. My scarred heart heated with a warning reminder of the hell I had been living, and it was all Cret's fault.
My raven beauty… I had heard that name before. It passed his lips just before he left me for dead all those years ago. He was the one that took my life from me and replaced it with this new one I had never asked for. Cret murdered me.
"Is that a problem?" I asked only to anger him. I wanted him on the same edge—rage coursing through his body like it was mine. "You know what I am Cret. I won't make excuses."
I glanced at him from the corner of my eye, neither of us were hiding anymore. My glamoured mortal appearance had faded long ago. I now stood beside him in all my raw beauty. A dark thing contrasted against the harsh glow of rain soaked clouds and lightning that filtered through the sky instead of striking downward from the heavens in bolts. Where the temperature had been unseasonably cold when we arrived, it now was warmer, thick with humidity that intensified the electricity flowing through the lingering storm. I could see him clench his hands into tight fists as he stared down at the burning city, the intensity of his green stare reflecting the flames below. The thick attire that hid him so well before was ripped and shredded, dirt and shallow cuts covered his body from our daring escape in the tunnels. I was sure I couldn't look much better, but still I felt dark and beautiful. Like an elegant creature on the hunt, preparing for that final pounce.
"Do you have no compassion?" he questioned with a plea to my humanity. "Those people are suffering—dying because you killed a Vamdari."
"You're welcome." I mocked, my eyes never leaving the entertainment below. "If I hadn't killed that Vamdari you wouldn’t be here, and besides they won't all die. When the sun rises I'm sure there will be plenty of survivors left to feast on in the temple."
The thought of hundreds of scared pathetic mortals cowering in the marble palace of the gods brought a twisted grin to my face. Their gods couldn’t protect them any longer. A distant rumble sounded as a flash of lightning filled the sky with harsh light. A protest to my thoughts perhaps? The divine could cry all they wanted, nothing could stop what was coming.
Cret's body stiffened, his fists shook. That was what I wanted, that was the edge I wanted him to be on. His usual causal demeanor was cracking…Good.
"Damn you Serenity, what are you doing? What plan do you have forming in that demoralized mind of yours?"
"What's wrong. Can't read me anymore?" I laughed at him.
Though it was brief, in my taste of him I gained so much knowledge. Learning quickly how to refuse him access to my thoughts. It left me blind to his intentions as well, but at least it made us even. I chuckled at my victory, losing myself in this newfound power, a new rush that had me feeling undefeatable. My creature became stronger, its rage growing more dominant. I could feel myself slipping—I wanted to slip.
"I thought you were different. That you changed." His voice held a tone of disappointment, a hint of heartache and my creature purred in response. "Where is the sorrow and compassion you showed this morning in the temple?"
I clenched a fist to focus, to hold back my need to strike at the reminder of how pathetic my behavior was. This conversation was lasting too long. I wanted him. I wanted his blood, that power it would give me, and also the sweet taste of closure I had been longing for.
"It's gone. I don't want to feel those things anymore. I shouldn't feel those things. While others like me are consumed by their blood-lust, I'm left trapped by my lingering mortality," I growled in response, fighting back from the edge of hysteria. "I'm devoured by these cursed emotions I shouldn't feel. I didn't change. There was no choice involved. I was changed. Left to rot in agony."
My chest was heaving up and down from my rant, the anger inside had built to a level I didn't believe possible and my mortality was slipping away. Fading into the background of my creature that wanted death while my mind filled with pointless questions I wanted answered.
"You did this to me." I growled like a feral beast. There was betrayal there deep within my rage. Cret must have felt it too because his stiffened stance relaxed when I turned my gaze toward him. He softened and guilt replaced his anger, it only made the moment worse.
My mind flashed to the interest and the clear attraction between us, those confusing moments spent in his room and the sorrow he felt seeing Vondorian's brand on me. It had to be an act. Some false game he was playing to get close to me again, that was what sent me racing toward the edge of control. The burning scar over my heart grew deeper and clenched into a tragic reality—he was using me.
I couldn't think on it anymore, the reasons too maddening and I slipped away to the will of my creature. Letting it take me into the depths of revenge that we both so needed, and then it would all be over. My life would return to that time before Cret struck me down in battle. No more internal conflict, no more questioning Master, no more… hell.
The last horror-filled century of my life would be gone, lost in a sea of power driven cravings like it had before. I would take Cret's life and silence the remnants of my mortal soul.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fated Betrayal Chapter One

Book Three of the Opsona Journey Series is LIVE!
That's right, Shadowed Intentions is finally here completing this series of events. Don't worry there is a still a lot more story to come, new locations, new characters all to come.

For now read chapter one of book two, Fated Betrayal.
If you missed yesterdays post you can read the first chapter of book one, Immortal Tempest

***Content Below is for Adults 18+***

Opsona Journey Series Book Two
Fated Betrayal
The once busy center of Tentusa had been transformed into a place of death, a stack of dead bodies burned against the lingering morning, and to my surprise a man was standing there. A stranger I had never seen before.

"What do you want boy?" I asked the person lingering in what was quickly becoming my master's city.

The stranger turned to face me, a slender form of a young man no older than his mid-twenties or even earlier, features masked by a bright red scarf leaving only his eyes visible. Maybe boy wasn't the right term for him, but compared to me everyone was just a child.

He stood there with a gaze of shock plastered on his face, his deep green eyes glued to my figure much like that letch Marcus when we first met, but what reflected in this boy's expression was not lust. It was disbelief.

"What do you want boy?" I said louder, annoyed that my question had not been answered the first time.

"I was summoned," the stranger answered with a confidence his awe struck appearance contradicted. "May I speak with Rhea? She is expecting me."

I knew my gaze faltered for a second and I had to look away at hearing that name again. "She is no longer with us."

It was the only formation of words I could manage to get out in response to his request. I couldn’t say she was murdered, killed, or even force the Opsona's name from my lips. There was no death from that night that struck me deeper than that of hers.

Even with the passing of a week, her death was still fresh. Everything from that night I was unleashed upon this city in all my lusty rage was fresh in my thoughts.

Forty-seven lives were taken in a matter of hours, snuffed out in a violent storm of chaos and left to rot in the streets. I had lost more control in that one episode than I ever had over my long life, including the first time the creature inside me woke. And unlike all those other rare moments when it raged free—the memories from that night were lucid. Burned with intricate detail into my every waking thought were the looks of horror on my victims faces, their fear imaged inside my mind. Each one a memorial to the persons last moments of life. My creature loved it. When my mind would flash through the series of victims from that night I could hear the soft pleasured purr deep within, but despite all of their faces hers haunted me the most.

The scent of her pure Opsona blood with its sweet rose fragrance lingered on my hands swirling around me like a death taunt, an awful reminder of what I was and what I was capable of. Those last words she spoke to me seared in tortuous repetition across my mind, and each time I longed for sleep all I could see were those pale green eyes that pleaded in those final moments.

I always thought less of those who pleaded under my sword or claw, those who begged for their life—instead of accepting defeat with grace. Killing them was an act of kindness to this world, ridding this plane of their pathetic existence, but the plea in her eyes was for me.

She begged the awful thing I was to stop, remarking that I had a choice, that I had options, and then I killed her. She never fought nor drew her weapon, she just died…I killed her.

"In what context?" The boy asked, his emerald eyes expressing a knowing while his question suggested he lacked the intelligence to understand my statement.

Such an odd contradiction between his expressive eyes and awkward clumsy appearance, but even that was out of place in a world full of mortal normalcy. I couldn't tell much about him, just that his ash gray clothing was loose and ill fitting, not unlike a child that had stolen their father's clothing to play pretend. The red scarf wrapped around his face and head left only those haunting green eyes, pools of sparkling emeralds that danced with intensity. They appeared to look beyond me each time his gaze settled across the empty city center in my direction, as if studying something around me instead of the threat I posed right in front of him.

His were eyes set in a rich honey complexion that suggested he could be some simple farm boy who wandered into town, but even the richness of his skin was far deeper than any farmer in these mortal lands.

He wasn’t struggling with lack of intelligence and he completely understood my statement, I could tell by the age reflected in his gaze. This stranger had lived long enough to know more than a simple farmer, there was too much experience there. A look that only came with long years of tortured living. My first estimation about his age was clearly wrong, his youth screamed of someone no older than his twenties, but his eyes corrected me with their aged appearance. This stranger had secrets, ones he was guarding closely by the looks of his outward appearance, but he couldn't hide those tormented years in that gaze.

"Don't worry yourself boy," I said with a grin. A false outward gesture to stifle the ache that had settled in my chest and to lash out in my own grief over his friend's death. "She will return. Isn't that what you Opsona are known for?"

The Opsona were children of the Virtuous Gods where typical races found on the mortal planes were the product of both the Virtuous Gods and the Tainted Divinities, created out of subtle variations of both what mortals often called good and evil. The Opsona contain no essence from the Tainted Divinities, the evil in the world, but they were not the saints logic would suggest. They were crafted by the Deity of Justice to combat things like me, and ensure the mortal plane remained in neutral existence. The Virtues made them strong, granted them knowledge, but left out compassion and empathy. In some ways an Opsona could be more brutal than any dark thing lurking in the Underworld, and they saw the world in only black or white. You were either evil, created solely by the Tainted and needed to be eradicated from the mortal world, or a child of creation. A mix of virtue and impiety brought to life to be ignorant creatures that occupied this fruitful middle world.

They were also granted eternal life. It wasn't like my immortality, nor could I take advantage of it now that my soul had been tainted with Vondorian's blood. My eternal existence was linked to this body which was free of natural aliments. I would age slowly to a certain point then pause in time, and the only means that would ensure my destruction was decapitation.

Opsona had no such worries, their bodies were meaningless to them. They withered and died young and reckless despite the lengthened life spans the Virtues had granted them, but their souls carried on.

When someone of my former kin died their souls did not return to the massive pool of life from which all things were crafted, they were reborn. Placed into another body of the same lineage. When the child entered into adulthood the Opsona preformed a ritual to unlock the past memories, combining the experience and skills of generations into a single being. It was what made them such formidable opponents. Fighting one Opsona was no different than fighting generations.

I often wondered what it was like to have all that knowledge, and I would daydream about who I could have been in my past lives. It was something I would never know since I was stolen away before my memories could be restored.

He shot a cold glare in response to my comment. My words were meant as a reassurance to end the shame I felt in taking her life, and a twisted taunt to appease the darker side of me but also to draw some information out of him. No one ventured into the valley anymore, only a fool or another Opsona would. I had to find out which he was.

Silence became the stranger's new form of answer as he directed his gaze around the city center. I could no longer look at the scenery, I didn't want to see my infection, my sin that had seeped into every crack of the once glowing gem of a city. It was just too much. Instead I focused on this stranger who had so willingly entered into the valley.

Over the last week, since the night I ravaged Tentusa, my master had taken up a new method to his conquest. Using Ryder and her men he created a nightmarish fairytale of "The Beast". A creature which attacked every night both here within the city walls, and the outer villages that littered the rolling hills all in the hopes of luring out the king of this province. Something that was proving to be difficult since Marcus had escaped to the capital, no doubt running his mouth and telling of the awful things that had befallen Tentusa. That sandy-haired letch who was chasing after Lady Victoria while imagining me laid out upon his bed was nothing more than a lucky fool. I was sure Marcus didn’t fully understand what was happening, that vampires had taken control of the city, but more that something dark had gripped this place. Whatever he told the king it was enough to keep him away.

It brought me joy in some small regard to know that Vondorian's plans had stalled thanks to his most loyal subject, because it wasn't me that let Marcus slip through the boarders of the valley.

The day after my unrestrained feast I was being detained in some tomb under the city, locked away in raving insanity until my creature withdrew and my mortal self regained her loosened grip of control. It must have been then, while the others were busy keeping me confined, that Marcus slipped out of the city and headed toward the capital. It was a delightful fuck-up.

That was on Ryder's head, it was her men that guarded the area and her one goal to see to it no one that wasn't approved left or entered the valley. Her failings brought me a tickled feeling of delight in this otherwise death-riddled hell I had found myself in, and now this boy had managed to sneak past her men. I could not wait to see the punishment Master had in store for Ryder, but why did this boy come?

Surely he saw the black storm that hovered over the valley, and anyone that had heard the stories, heard the nightmares from the people whom Vondorian allowed to escape, would never come here willingly. Summoned or not this place had been marked as cursed, and for once the superstitious mortals were right. This place was cursed, so much blood had covered these hills in the last seven days I wondered how the grass remained so vibrant a green.

"Where are you keeping her?" the boy demanded, a hint of anger in his muffled voice. "They wouldn't have allowed you to burn her. Where is Rhea's body?!"

The sting of her name hit me again and I turned away from the strange boy that concealed everything but his clear connection to this Opsona woman. I was done with him, I would let Ryder deal with him and all his silly demands when night fell.

I took a step back to leave when the scent of cloves and honey danced across my nose.

This is familiar. I halted my movements and took a moment to draw in more. I know this scent.

The familiarity clung to my mind as I searched for some memory of the strange aroma which had sparked this feeling. There was nothing, not a single moment I could recall to place this odd mix of cloves and honey, but I knew I had smelled it before and it was coming from the stranger.

Fine, I will play along for now. I relented to that persistent nagging voice in the back of my mind.

"This way." I motioned, turning and folding my arms across my chest. The gesture a silly outward attempt to block out the feelings and hopeless mental ramblings of the living that still lingered in the city.

Their minds were so full of despair, sorrow, and fear that it was affecting me. Aside from my own shame, their thoughts were becoming an insufferable itch inside my head, to the point of altering my state of mind.

That was what I told myself. That was how I explained my sudden intense feelings of tormented guilt which welcomed me out of my creature-driven madness. They were not my own, it was the people around me, the voices I couldn't block out, and the worst part was not even my creature tried to muffle them with its hungry growls.

It should have been rolling in delight from all the fear seeping out of these homes, purring with a deprived greed for more.

Instead it had curled up deep within me and slept in a gluttonous heap since its feast, unphased. Leaving the hardest part, the aftermath of all of this for me to deal with. Just like Vondorian.

Turning me into a murderous beast wasn't enough for his perverse needs, every morning after Ryder and her men played with the mortals I was sent to clean up the mess, acting as the false guardian to the masses. Stacking the dead to burn and assuring the survivors that I was handling the situation, lying to them. Repeating every solemn morning that their lives were the most important thing to me. I wanted to kill them all, to end their suffering but I couldn't even do that. Vondorian's mental chains were holding me at bay.

Damn Vondorian and his special punishments…Damn him…And me.

I couldn't give him all the blame. If I hadn't strayed from his orders—if I had just obeyed then none of this would be happening. Tentusa would have fallen by now, the whole northern half of this province would be overrun with the Vamdari Army and claimed for the Vampire Nation. They wouldn't be suffering like this.

It's all my fault. A thought which weighted heavier on me in the shadow of the temple. A grand polished marble structure that stood out as the last beacon of hope any of these people had. Erected in the lowest point of the valley, it was a most holy place where monks and priests came in pilgrimage to worship their gods and goddesses. There must have been some truth to its importance because it remained untouched by our evil. The darkened gloom that had overtaken the rest of the white stone city did not dirty these polished walls. It was here they housed the injured and her.

"The temple priests have been looking after the body. You will find your friend inside," I said looking over my shoulder at the stranger, surprised that he had followed so willingly. He must have known how much danger lingered around the city, the signs were too pronounced not to and still he followed.

This stranger was a mad man driven by his weak heartfelt emotions to do right by his friend, or maybe his intentions were less transparent. Either way I would have to inform Master like the good loyal servant I had surrendered myself to. I would do anything to avoid this special form of punishment ever again.

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