I am happy to say that I have reached the halfway point of Wilting Blood: Red Revival, the current page count is 213 pages which puts it only 11 pages behind my last novel Urban Monarchs. I am confident that the novel will surpass the 300 page count at this point in time, but since the story grows and changes constantly I can’t give a truly confident estimation of length at this point. More news to come soon!
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A Kindle Countdown deal for Urban Monarchs is starting on March 27th and running to March 31st! During this time the books price will be only 99 cents!! Reviews are greatly appreciated!!
Isaac’s gray eyes burst open, the sound of his heartbeat filling his head. The brown sheets of his bunk were as itchy as usual, and all the other boys were still sound asleep in their bunks. He placed his hand to his chest, feeling his pounding heart, and silently rolled out his bed. His hair was short, black with a tuft of white towards the front, and was still a mess from the bed. Marked onto his pale skin under his left eye was a small orange rectangle. The room itself was long and rectangular, the floor and walls were made of smooth damp stone, several clothing-filled shelves were spaced out along the inner wall, and three triangular windows let the rising sun leak into the bunk room.
He grabbed his gambeson, a dark grey outfit made out of boiled leather, off a shelf and quickly changed into it. He put his bedclothes onto the shelf and then held his breath as he snuck out of the room. Entering the cold stone hallway he slowly shut the door and exhaled. He hated talking to these people, more than anything else in the world. Isaac was fairly sure he hadn’t made a single actual friend during the entirety of his two years in Training, only a few loose acquaintances, and if any of them considered him a friend he’d be more surprised than anyone. Luckily after today he only had to wake up like this one more time. Then he and everyone else here would be divided up and sent either to an Apprenticeship under an experienced Blut Hunter, if they were lucky, and get to avoid actual combat for a bit longer, or they would be shipped off right to the front lines.
Isaac shivered at the thought of the front lines, and the Spearhead Legion. Everyone heard the horror stories. Some delighted in them like they were tales of glory, things to be sought after and emulated, but anyone with half a brain knew the truth, only the truly skilled Magic-Users survive long in Spearhead. He wasn’t quite sure what being alive meant to him, but he knew for a fact that he wanted to stay like that. That’s why he was hoping and praying to the Three Predecessors with all his might that he would be assigned to the Auxiliary Legion, have a cushy Apprenticeship, and never even get close to seeing the front lines.
He reached the end of the hallway, where a large wooden door emblazoned with a beautiful carving of a rose rested. Isaac grabbed onto the metal handle of the door and yanked it open, the cold morning air blasting him in the face as he walked out onto the pathway. The rising sun’s light danced across the pinkish roofs of the great city of Roserum, slowly melting the frost that had accumulated on the windows of its residents, some small shops and stalls were beginning to open and sell what little goods they had to the few passerby’s that were awake at this hour. Above it, all was where Isaac stood, Castle Burgund. An ancient fortress that was constructed for wars long since passed, it hung over the city like a deep-red mountain made of gothic spires, and Buttresses, the castle had played many roles in the history of Fallende, but none more crucial than its role now as the home of the countries Grand Leader, Agape Weisrose, and as the home base for te Hunter Legions . Isaac had heard that the countries true capital was in the very middle of the country, a land of death and blood now called Leiche by some, but had to be abandoned after the Bluts appeared.
This view, during this time of year, had been Isaac’s favorite part of Training. These next two days might be the last he would have in Roserum and with how things were going for him, they probably were. Becoming a Blut Hunter was never a choice that Isaac, or most of the other kids here, got to make for themselves.
Another wooden door waited for him at the end of the walkway, he opened it, and inside waiting for him was a large windowless room with a cracked stone floor, torches dotted along the walls, a second door was embedded in the wall across from him. Isaac walked up to the closest wall and slumped against it, making sure to keep his head down. His morning routine was a trade-off, he might be able to avoid the initial conversations with his fellow trainees, but the looks he gets when they all flood into this room make him wish that a Blut would tear out his throat. Although not everyone in his class inspired the same gut reaction in him. Daphne, a super talented Color Mage, made his stomach feel all twisted up and warm when he saw her, but he knew she’d never show interest in someone like him. He wasn’t the best looking in the class, he was an Orange and she was a Red, native to this Canton, and he couldn’t even project his magic, just manipulate what already surrounded him.
Isaac knew his limits, he had to face them very early into the training when Instructor Hans made them fight in mock combat, any little confidence or pride that he had in his Magic melted away before his very eyes. He was an Elemental, and his chosen discipline was rare granted, but he didn’t know how to use it very well, and there were other Elementals here with much more common specialties that could kill him before he could even try and manipulate his element. He’d even heard some of the more ambitious students talk about becoming Magicians, the highest level a Magic-User could reach, and one that granted one god-like power. Though Isaac never thought any of them would live long enough to attempt reaching such heights.
Isaac scrunched up further against the wall. “It will all be fine if I can make it into Auxiliary,” he repeated over and over in his head, “If I can make it in there then I’ll have a chance to at least get to thirty.”
The door in front of him flew open, scaring him. A tall man entered the room with embroidered blue robes and with a white sash around his neck, that marked him as an Instructor, his hair was blonde and to his shoulders, he had a small goatee of the same color, hazel eyes, and a small blue rectangle under his left eye. Isaac began to nervously chew on his thumbnail.
“Isaac Schwarzschild,” The man remarked, his tone a perfect mix of curious and condescending, “You are early again. Now that I think about it, you’ve been early every day since the second day of instruction.”
The man’s face changed to one of approval. “I’ve always appreciated people that go the extra mile, and your enthusiasm for my teachings has not been lost on me.”
“Thank you, sir.” Isaac quickly replied before putting his head down once again.
Instructor Hans gave a nod. “You Oranges, ” he began,” are known to be quite lazy people, some of the least productive in all of Fallende, so imagine my surprise when one of the most diligent students, of this class cycle at least, turned out to be an Orange. Honestly, I still have a hard time believing it now and it has been two years.”
Isaac clenched his hands tightly. He hated when people brought up his Mark, especially the way that Hans was now. He barely remembered what it was like in his home Canton of Oranalone and the Canton they were in now was Redfall, not Bluerise, so Hans wasn’t a native here either. So he had no idea why he always acted so high and mighty about his Mark since he was in the same position as Isaac.
“That plus your rare magic selection made you quite the interesting student to teach,” Hans continued to muse aloud, ”Not as interesting as Malcolm mind you, now that is a Trainee with talent, but it would be a shame to waste you, Schwarzschild.”
“Thank you, sir” Isaac repeated, hiding his discomfort the best he could behind the soft clack of his teeth on his nail.
“You know your place, Schwarzschild, that is something that a lot of your peers could learn from, more so than any magic you could ever possibly cast. ”Hans laughed,” I do hope some of your classmates have learned at least a little from your sterling example. Mostly the Greens, they can be so unwieldy.”
Normally Hans would just ignore Isaac as he stood and waited against the wall, but today something was different about the Instructor, a glint of pride in his eye that the class of students he had overseen for two years was finally going to graduate. Isaac wondered if the pride was legitimate or if Hans was just thinking of all the achievements, he could take credit for if anyone in the class became a big-time Hunter.
The door opened and the sound of footsteps flooded into the room. His classmates had arrived, and Isaac watched the group of twenty with bated breath, sinking a little further into his stance with every look he got from his classmates.
One of the students, a larger boy with short brown hair, a green rectangle under his eye, two short swords at his sides, and an ugly scarred face approached him. “Trying to sink into the wall again, huh, Baby’s Breath?”
The boy was named Adrian, and he was one of Isaac’s few acquaintances. The two of them met when they were much younger, both being placed in the same state orphanage. Adrian used to bully him, one time forcing him to eat several handfuls of baby’s breath flowers from the orphanage garden, hence the nickname.
“You could be a bit nicer than that, can’t you Adrian?” A girl’s voice asked from beside Isaac, “this is one of the last times we are all going to be together like this. The least you could do is call him by his real name.”
Isaac turned towards the voice and saw a sickly-looking girl with black hair tied back into a ponytail, and a red rectangle under her eye. Her name was Velonia and she was his other acquaintance. Velonia was a bit of an enigma in the class, even Isaac had managed to hear all sorts of rumors about her. She never practiced Magic with the class, nobody knew where she slept, and as far as he knew nobody knew had ever found out her last name.
The three of them were the definition of acquaintances by convenience. None of them fit into any other group for one reason or another and they just kind of drifted towards each other. A group of outcasts if there ever was one.
While Velonia and Adrian began an exchange about the morals of referring to Isaac by a nickname he received via an act of cruelty, Isaac’s eyes were drawn to another girl in the class who was talking and laughing with a friend. She had brown hair and a delicate face, her rectangle was red, and her blue eyes were like two beautiful blue lakes that Isaac felt like he could swim inside forever. Daphne was the only person in the world that Isaac wanted to spend more time with. He wanted to approach her so bad and start a conversation, he knew they’d hit it off if he approached her, but the simple idea of rejection or of him making a fool of himself in front of her made it damn sure that he wasn’t going to say a word. He hated himself for it, there were only two days left where he would be able to form any type of bond before one or both of them was sent to the front lines to die for Fallende and bring forth a brighter future, or whatever nonsense the Instructors always prattled on about.
Isaac watched Daphne’s eyes shift focus from the freckle-spattered face of her best friend Violet to someone else. A well-built, handsome classmate of theirs with two daggers at his hips, a demeanor that oozed confidence, short black hair, and a blue mark under his eye. The boy calmly walked up to Daphne like he couldn’t see how intimidatingly her beauty was and started a conversation with her and Violet. Isaac chewed on his nail harder.
Isaacs’ face turned into a rotten scowl and he whipped his head away. He hated Malcolm. He hated him so much. He wanted his power so bad, the power to walk up to and talk to people, to feel comfortable in his skin, and seize the world by the horns.
“Baby’s Breath, you okay?” Adrian asked, staring down at him.
“Y-yeah,” Isaac managed to stutter out, ”why?”
“You just stared at Daphne for a solid two minutes then got angry and whipped your head away when Malcolm walked up,” Velonia replied plainly before Adrian could respond. Isaac felt himself deflate.
The Third Captain
Mayor Canberry was in a sorry state. He had been stripped of his finery, gagged and hogtied to a pole, and was being carried through the dirty snow by a pair of brutally disfigured sociopaths. His quest for power had gone so incredibly well for most of his life. He married the right woman, went to the correct schools, rubbed shoulders with the right people, and became the mayor of one of Bluerises’s most important towns, but all this was never enough for him and he knew it. He needed more. That’s why when the chance to acquire the blood of Aswia and obtain immortality was presented to him, he had no qualms about selling out his city and putting all of Bluerise at risk of falling to the Blutsaugers. It was all going swimmingly too, that was until the Spec legion arrived. At first, the victories were small, insignificant areas seized by the Bluts was recaptured by the bolstered Bluerise Hunters, but the Spec Legion began to brutally cut a swathe through Blut territory until they reached the very town he ruled.
The siege of the city lasted for days before it fell and the Bluts inside either retreated deeper into their territory or were exterminated by the Spec Legion Hunters, he had sadly not yet received his sanguine reward and was still very regrettably Mortal when the Hunters stormed his home and captured him. The things that they did to his wife and family were unspeakable, but they didn’t lay a finger on him. He hadn’t known the reason why until earlier today when two disfigured Hunters in black shawls came to his cage to hogtie him and take him to a personal meeting with the Legions Captain, J’heno Edic.
Everyone had heard the rumors about J’heno Edic. The most brutal and monstrous man within the ranks of Fallende’s Blut Hunters, a man who was rumored to be just as much of a monster as any Blut. Canberry’s round portly body shivered at the thought of what monster awaited him within the Captain’s tent.
A woman with a shaved head, a large scar across her forehead that looked like a frown, and a missing eye approached the entrance of the tent just, entering just before he did. She was cradling a box that was incredibly familiar to him, it was his cherished Golden Ring Tea, one of the most expensive brews on the continent. He bought the tea just to have, with money that he had embezzled from the town’s funds, he only planned to serve it if he ever entertained incredibly important guests, but never got the chance.
He entered the tent, and the two men carrying him placed him on the ground, bowed to someone in front of them, and quickly hurried out.
The inside of the tent was incredibly well-furnished items such as beautiful paintings, chairs cushioned with fine velvet, and a bed that looked like it belonged in the room of a king. Seated in front of him in one of the velvet chairs was a man in a luxurious black fur coat. His silver-white hair reached down to his back, his eyes were an unnatural purple, lacking a Canton Mark beneath them, and despite their ethereal beauty, looked as if they had been painted onto his face. His legs were crossed and he had a slight smile on his beautiful face that filled Canberry with a type of dread that made him want to curl into a ball and die.
“Captian J’heno,” the woman from earlier spoke, her voice a raspy croak,” I have brought the tea that you have requested from the Mayor’s manor.”
“Ahh,” J’heno chirped, his voice melodic and his accent strange and foreign,” Just place it on the stand next to the kettle.”
The woman did as was instructed of her before bowing and leaving the tent.
“Now,” J’heno started, getting up from his seat and walking towards the box of Golden Ring,” I cannot even begin to tell you how long I have wanted to try this exact brand of tea!”
He lit the kettle and placed the tea inside.
“Drinking it will truly be an experience to remember,” he continued,” I’m sure the flavor is quite wonderful, although I’ll never actually be able to confirm that. Sadly I lost my sense of taste a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy the finer things in life.”
J’heno looked down to Mayor Canberry, his gaze was piercing, almost painful.”
“From my understanding, you also have quite the hunger for the luxurious, do you not? Was it that same hunger of yours that drove you to betray Fallende? Or was it something else that gave you the foolish idea that it was smart to cross the Blut Hunters, and by extension, to cross me?”
J’heno squatted down next Canberry. Now having a closer look at the man Canberry could see that there was something wrong with his skin. It moved. But not as if there was something underneath it. It was the exact opposite, his skin flowed across his face, swirling like clouds of pale peach-colored dust. It was the same with his eyes. J’heno’s entire body was seemingly composed of constant flows of cloudy dust.
“I understand desiring immortality,” J’heno coldly mused,” It is a truly fantastic thing to not be limited by the weak bodies of flesh that plague us from our births, but did you really think that a creature as foul looking as you could ever truly enjoy eternity?
You’re just another power-hungry politician who has forgotten that despite all the influence you wield, that you’re still as pathetically Mortal as everybody else,” J’heno smiled an awful smile, his flowing teeth the same color as his hair,” I love people like you. I love you so much. It’s disgusting excuses for living creatures like you that keep my precious Spec Legion stocked full of terrible little monsters for me to play with.
You were only a puppet for the Bluts, so I doubt you know what it feels like, but the feeling of having a group of vicious criminals that you can release upon the world with a snap of your fingers is a truly divine one.”
J’heno placed his cold finger on the Mayor’s balding head.” Although I’d truly love to help you repay your blood debt to this country of yours, by molding you into another doomed Spec Legionnaire. However I’m afraid that the penalty for political corruption in Fallende is death,” J’heno cackled before continuing,” you really should have known that little rule, having been born here and all. You didn’t expect to get your unhealthily large ass caught, and it’s painfully obvious.”
J’heno grinned.” Don’t worry Mr. Mayor, your death, although assured, will not be until I will it. Until then you will have the honor of entertaining me until my tea has finished brewing.”
The Captain threw his hands up and laughed.” I know, I know,” he sang,” there is no need to thank me for my mercy. I am well aware of how kind and loving I can be to those unlucky few in my care.”
J’heno placed his finger under the blue mark under Canberry’s eye.” You people are truly an oddity,” he stated, amused,” your ancestors hail from all over the world, drawn to this shabby land chunk of land by “ the Five Demons” or whatever you people believe in. Then you all start fighting until eventually, someone has the bright idea to put rectangles under everyone’s eye with different colors depending on where in the country you are from. Then you all just go back to killing one another, but with the added bonus of liking the guy standing next to you, no matter what they look like, as long as they have the right color under their eye, and the only thing you hate more than each other were foreigners. Well, that was the case until the whole Blut fiasco started at least, at least we can all agree that those things are truly disgusting, well maybe you wouldn’t agree with that but still, the sentiment remains the same.”
The bizarre flow of purple particles that made up J’heno’s eye was mesmerizing, it moved in an endless circle that had pulled in Canberry like a whirlpool. With the captain so close to him Canberry could smell a strong mix of expensive perfumes and petrichor.
“You know that you can learn a lot about a person by looking at their hands,” J’heno commented, before grasping Canberry’s hand with his own, his skin feeling more like hard rock than flesh,” yours for instance are very soft. That means you’ve barely worked a day in your life.”
J’heno grabbed a finger and pulled it backward, snapping it like a twig, and revealing the white bone underneath. Mayor Canberry let out a muffled scream, and J’heno laughed. The pain was the worst he had ever felt in his entire life, and the monster could not stop laughing.
“Oh,” J’heno screeched in between his laughs,” that was certainly a good scream! I very much hope you have a few more good ones in you before the bloodloss catches up with you and you pass out.
The captain let out a pained sigh.” Now, I would love to drag this out with you as long as possible, but sadly I do not have my tools with me at the moment, so we will have to work with what I have on me for our time together. So what I’m thinking is going to happen is that I’m going to have to rip you apart with my bare hands unless someone walks in here with a wrench I can use, but I don’t think that’s going to happen so it’s looking like it’s going to be my hands,” J’heno gestured his hands in a way that made it seem like he thought this situation was the most relatable in the world,” I know, I know, it’s not the most glamorous torture method, but I believe that it’s really important that a person doesn’t forget their roots and enjoys the classics every once and awhile. Now if we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation of you still being alive and conscious by the time the tea is ready, don’t worry, I have a plan worked out for just that occasion. I will simply electrocute you, slowly, until you die.”
The next part of Canberry’s body to be mutilated was his eyes, with J’heno plucking them both out of his head in quick succession. The pain was unbearable and Mayor Canberry continued to scream.
“That’s the spirit.”
The sound of the tea kettle hissing filled the tent, and J’heno looked down upon his good work. The once-proud and corrupt Mayor of Jasmine was now nothing bloody pile of pulp on the ground. He would have to get somebody clean that up before started to smell, but right now there were much more pressing matters to attend to besides taking out the trash.
J’heno excitedly walked over to the tea kettle. Drinking this Golden Ring was going to be such a treat, another fantastic way to remind all of his precious little worms in Spec Legion that he was insurmountably better than them in every possible way.
He looked down at his bloody hands, and water began to bubble up from beneath his clear “skin”, washing the blood away before he touched his finely crafted porcelain cup. He would never even dream of getting something as important as that dirty.
Lovingly, he grabbed the kettle and poured the caramel-golden liquid into the cup, which he then placed on an equally beautiful saucer with a satisfying clink. He took his drink and strutted outside of his tent. The air was cold, but it made the steam from his tea extra visible, so he enjoyed it.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” J’heno announced, taking the first sip of his hot tea,” I am extraordinarily happy to announce that Mayor Canberry is dead, and now that my final piece of business has been completed, and because Bluerise has been stabilized, we can kiss this Canton goodbye and head back to sweet old Roserum. A small contingent of you will be staying here a bit longer sadly just to help oversee the Hunters here and makes sure that things stay in the stalemate that we have all grown so comfortable with, but I will decide on who those individuals are at a later date.”
He took another drink and looked around at the Hunters around him. Some stared blankly at him, others looked at him with pathetic hate in their eyes, but most just froze up and shrank away from him. He truly loved his job.
“You’re all just standing here and staring at me,” He said coldly,” I said that we are leaving, yet you all just stand there like scared animals stead of packing. It’s truly a sad sight, I thought I had you all trained better than that. Do I really have to educate you again?”
The whole camp sprung into motion, frantically following the orders of their Captain, even those with enough of an ego left to hate J’heno knew what would happen if they crossed him. He smiled and took a sip of his tea, enjoying the feeling of the heat in his mouth.
“Oh, and will somebody get the Mayor out of my tent, I don’t want to get any more blood on this coat than I already have.”
I have decided that the official title of my new book will be Wilting Blood: Red Revival.
The title works well with a number of events, themes, and characters within the story and as of right now I am anticipating at least to other titles within the Wilting Blood series.
I will make sure to post any other major updates on here as they come. Stay Tuned!
Exerpt 1: Theme Never
Isaac shot to his feet, he felt a disgusting churning fear in his gut, but he couldn’t let her keep letting her do this. “D-don’t compare me to Violet.”
“You are right Isaac you don’t deserve to be compared to Violet!”
“I don’t!” He yelled back,” Violet was the worst in the class! She could barely use her Magic and had a constitution almost as bad as Velonia’s. Even if I never ran into Mobiel the odds of me still being picked over her were astronomically high, and I am saying this fully aware that I wasn’t and Am still not good enough to have the Apprenticeship. She was a nice girl but she was the worst in our class by a long shot!”
Expert 2: Theme Blood
The Bluts pulled their arms back, adjusting their stances. They whipped the iron balls with a whirling sound. Each one plowing through the waiting torsos of the tied up mortals with an explosion of crimson mist, blood, guts, and bone filled the air as the white snow began to turn red. The Commoners charged with the inhuman speed at the eviscerated Mortals, those of whom without immediately fatal injuries were now awake and screaming. The Commoner Bluts greedily shoved their faces into the wounds and began to drink.
Exerpt 3: theme Magic
Hans held his hand out and a blue aura began to drip from his palm, before solidifying into a reflective metal ball.
“ I hope you all have fond memories of my golem Rodro.” Hans laughed before dropping the ball onto the ground.
Blue lines carved themselves across the silver surface of the ball as smaller identical spheres began to emerge from within the Artifact. Once it had accumulated a small puddle of balls the artifact spread the blue light between all of them, before pulling itself into a humanoid form that stood up perfectly straight next to its master. It looked like a doll that someone would use to practice sketching.
Exerpt 4: Theme Alone
He grabbed his dark grey gambeson off of a shelf and held his breath as he snuck out of the room. Entering the cold stone hallway Isaac exhaled and slipped into his training garb. He hated talking to these people, more than anything else in the world. Isaac was fairly sure he hadn’t made a single actual friend during the entirety of his two years of training, only a few loose acquaintances, and if any of them considered him a friend he’d be more surprised than anyone.
More to come!
After looking through my plans for my next book, it has become overwhelmingly apparent to me that this book is going to be the darkest story of have written to date. It will make Urban Monarchs look downright cheery in terms of content. I am incredibly excited to continue with this project and look forward to bringing more updates as to the contents of the book to you all.
In other news the term “Blood Hunter” is associated with many popular things in fiction so I will need to change the books title to help separate it from those other things. Blood hunters will remain a working title until a new one is selected.
Minor issues with the cover of Urban Monarchs for the paper back copy has put a delay on the release but it will be coming very very soon, will update further.