Wilting Blood Heritage’s Curse Excerpt

Chapter 26

A Stop on the Road

Velonia pulled her large cloak tighter around her. Despite the slow thawing that early spring brought with it winter’s chill was still very present within Fallnede’s air. The carriage she was in hit a bump, and she cursed aloud as she was launched an inch off her seat.

     Across from her sitting in the adjacent seat of the carriage was her father, Cinq Nadine. Velonia had never seen her father like this before. Even in serious situations, her father had always been the one to lighten the mood. He was always the first one to give an optimistic opinion of a situation, bringing up what could be learned from a failure or gained from a hard-fought victory. But now he was silent, silent and reflective in a way that Velonia had never seen before, and it deeply disturbed her.

     Cinq was reclining in his seat, resting his armored head in his hand as he looked out the window at the passing trees. The report came in a little more than two weeks ago, a monstrous creature was found and killed near a small village in Greendull. That was the day, not the second, her father changed. As soon as he had read that report Cinq Nadine had restructured everything he was doing around getting to Greendull and unsuspecting the body himself.

     No matter how much she asked him what this was all about her father refused to answer her, only shaking his head and telling her that he would explain it to her once they arrived. All she was able to glean about the situation was it was somehow tied to the Dispatch Hunters. A type of Blut Hunter that operated within the Auxillary Legion, their purpose is to deal with non-blutsauger threats to Fallende and its citizens. Often this involves criminals, wild animals, or Ancestor’s forbid foreigners.

     “Father,” Velonia spoke, maneuvering herself in her cloak so that her mouth was no longer covered. “We are almost at Buelint, surely you can tell me what this is all about now?”

    Cinq shook his head, it was a slight movement, as if her father was afraid that moving anymore would shake him from his thoughts and ruin the focus that he had carefully cultivated over the past few weeks. “Velonia,” he answered, his voice low and serious. “I would much prefer you not know about this unless you absolutely have to. If this turns out to be something other than what I worry it is I ask that you forget that this entire trip happened.”

     “What information could be so dire that you wish to keep it from me?” she replied. “So dire that you would drag us from Redfall to Greendull and not explain to me why?”

     “It will bring things to light that should stay buried in the dark, daughter,” Cinq replied. “And I don’t just do this for you, but also for me, I’d rather not think about this topic more than needed especially if I am blessedly proven wrong about my suspicions. Being correct would mean some awful thoughts from decades ago would be as true as the sky is blue.”

     Velonia opened her mouth to reply, to further argue that she had a right to know about whatever this was, but she was cut off before she could get a word out by a loud thump on the front of the cart.

     An arrow, dripping with fresh bubbly blood, was pierced through her father”s side of the cart. From the outside, she could hear the wailing and coughing of the carriage’s driver.

     “His lung,” she whispered to herself.

     More arrows pierced through their driver and into the carriage itself, the man’s screams continued as the second and third arrows appeared but stopped after the fourth.

     The window next to Velonia’s head shattered, instinctively she prevented any of the glass shards from hitting her, deflecting them with her Magic. Cinq’s armor protected him from the shards.

     She turned her head to the other window and found a crossbow bolt lodged into the glass of the window, a spiderweb of cracks surrounding it.

     “Get out of that cart Auxies,” a gruff voice called out. “We know that symbol and we know that you builders and healers ain’t no fighters.”

     A cacophony of laughs broke out from all around them. Bandits, a whole tribe of them from the sounds of it.

     “Sorry about your driver,” the gruff voice said with a laugh. “Our archers couldn’t help but notice that little orange mark under his eye, and well, I guess you could say their fingers slipped.”

     Again the laughs broke out around them though they were much harder than the last time.

     “Velonia,” Cinq commanded quietly. “Fix the windows, and thicken them.”

    She nodded and watched her father push open the door of the cart, broken glass loudly rattling as he got up.

     Cinq stepped out of the cart, red sashes trailing behind him. He held his hands in the air fingers splayed.

     She could see some of the bandits now, most of them did not recognize her father, but a few of their eyes grew wide at the sight of Cinq.

    “That’s a good man,” the man with a gruff voice said with a chuckle, walking out of the brush. The man was well-built and his tan skin was very scarred, his long black hair was braided like ropes and two axes hung at his sides. Green mark under his eye.

     “I can’t promise my archers will treat you any nicer than that plump old man you had for a driver,” the bandit leader flashed a grin of false friendship at Cinq. “But if ya keep complying like that, I can guarantee they’ll think nice and hard about holding their fire.”

     More laughs.

     “Hold their fire?” Cinq asked quizzically. “My how thoughtful of them! Believe me, I know a few things about holding fire! In fact…”

     Serpents of flame danced out of each of Cinq’s fingers, swirling into the sky and painting the land beneath them orange with their burning light.

     “I can feel my grasp on it slipping.”

    The flames descended and formed an eleven-foot-tall dome of fire around Cinq, the cart, and the bandit leader. Then without even so much as a gesture, the fire pushed outward on all sides.

     Velonia could hear the panicked screams of the horses and the pained screams of the bandit tribe as the wall of flames consumed them and they were burned alive.

     The bandit leader stared at Cinq, a look of pure horror on his face as his mind struggled to process what was happening. Then with a primal scream, the man took his axes from his sides and charged Cinq.

     Flame poured from Cinq’s visor and into the face of the bandit leader. He began to scream, and dropped to his knees, though the sound of his voice was soon drowned out by gurgles, and his melting flesh filled his throat. Then silence.

     The screams had stopped and she could feel the heat of the flames even from where she sat. Her father ended the stream of fire but did not let go of control of the flames.

     Cinq held his hand in front of him, palm upward, and the fire from all around them flew towards it. The flames condensed into a single sphere of flame, that now floated over Cinq’s shoulders. The forest around them was a charred disaster but untouched outside of the circle that Cinq had created.

     Cinq walked towards his daughter and extended a hand. “Dagger, thick, strong,” he commanded.

     Velonia created the glass weapon as she was instructed and her father took it from her.

     Inspecting it, Cinq nodded with approval and suck it into the side of the carriage. “Now fix the windows.”

     As Velonia worked on repairing the windows, Cinq was busy pulling the dead driver off of the carriage.

     The body dropped down beside her, just as she finished recreating the window next to her. The old man was an Orange, his hair was long white, and thin, and he was a bloody mess.

     Cinq appeared beside the corpse, the ball of fire still loyally flowing through him. Her father took the dagger from the wood of the cart and began to cut the old man’s hair from his head. Once he was carrying most of the man’s hair the orb of fire flew into the corpse and burned it to ash within seconds. Soon only ashes remained, no bone nor flame, only ash.

     “Why did you do that?” Velonia asked her father as he placed the hair pile in the seat in front of her.

     “Hair is very important to the burial rites of Oranalone, more important than the corpse, which they burn anyway,” He replied nonchalantly. “His family will be wanting it.”

     Cinq shut the door and climbed into the driver’s seat. With a word, he calmed the horses, and they were off again.

* this is an excerpt of the rough draft of the novel and not the final product.

Pastor Vs Paster

So in the Wilting Blood books world, the religious leaders of Fallende’s ancestor-centric faith are known as “pasters”, as opposed to the Christian term “pastor”.

The reason for this is two-fold. On the one hand, the similarity between the two words is supposed to allow the reader to instantly draw a mental bridge between the paster characters and religion. On the other hand, the faith of the Fallendeans is literal worship of the past and the word “paster” sounds similar to an adjective version of the word “past”, ie the holy men are enacting the history by teaching it, and their traditions to the current generation.

The main reason that I am bringing this up is the term has caused a lot of confusion among the readers I have talked to, and I wanted to clear up that the word “paster” is not a misspelling of “pastor” but is a fictional word made in reference to it and the literal past worship of the Fallendeans.

Preview Chapter of Wilting Blood Heritage’s Curse

Chapter 2

Ring

The twigs crunched loudly under Dhamrin’s boots as he made his way home through the snow-dusted forest. The world around him was stuck in a frozen stillness that was only occasionally interrupted by the sounds of small animals running from one bush to another. He exhaled and watch his breath become mist in the air.

     Dhamrin lived a lonely life in this forest. His home was nothing more than a small shack made from wood and stone and he only ever went into town when he needed to pick up more books to read. Books, scrolls, and pamphlets were the only things that broke up the dreadful monotony of Dhamrin’s life. But this excursion was almost over and soon the isolation would consume him again, for weeks or months at a time until his desire for some meager stimulation drove him from his home and out into the world once more.

     Life, in the general sense, is not an easy or enjoyable thing, and this was truer for Dhamrin than for anyone else. Of that, he was absolutely sure. The only reason he was alive now was because of an excessive amount of deer blood and the silver ring wrapped around his right index finger. Without that he would have been killed a long time ago. He had been hunted since the day he was born and the curse that was his life cost the lives of both his parents, killed by their very kin as they sought to correct the error that was Dhamrin’s birth. Luck would see him escape and the love of a blind man would see him gain the skills needed to function in this world, but that man was dead now and had been for over ten years.

     The world’s lust for his death was constrained by the birth of his ring and the façade of normalcy that it provided him with. Still, he could not live like this forever, and eventually, the outside world would encroach upon his stagnant sanctuary. Whether this would be a curse or a blessing he did not know.

     In truth Dhamrin only kept his own life going out of cowardice and how much of a uniquely difficult task ending it himself would be. His kind was the most hated of any creature that had ever walked the lands of Fallende. Hated by both Blutsauger and Mortal. A creature born of the love and lust of Bluts, a Pureblood who could never know the love of Aswia. As isolated in spirit as he was in body.

     Dhamrin’s shack came into view. It was a small structure situated between two large twisted trees. This far out in Shaderoot Forest he rarely got any visitors, and the few he did were experienced hunters and paid him no mind as they tracked their prey. But something was wrong inside of Dhamrin’s little shack, through its meager window he could see a soft flame burning. A candlelit by an uninvited guest. He pulled his fur cloak tight around himself, checked the secureness of his ring, and ran towards the shack.

     A vagabond would be no trouble for Dhamrin. None at all. Even with the ring muting his Blut nature, Dhamrin was still stronger than the average man, and even muted his nature couldn’t be changed, no amount of mundane injury could kill him. Even if it did cause him pain while the ring was on.

     The Pureblood burst through the door of the hut and created a gust of wind that extinguished the intruder’s candle. He pulled a dirk from his side and rushed the silhouetted intruder with a roar.

     In an instant Dhamrin’s found himself on the ground, thrown through his own handmade dining table. Splinters of wood had pierced through his clothes and cloak and had dug themselves deep into his currently Mortal flesh. The pain was excruciating and every slight move only dug the splinters deeper.

      “Oh, dear,” the intruder said with a click of his tongue. “Perhaps this was the wrong hut?”

     Dhamrin lunged forward, slashing at the intruder. Only to miss when the figure effortlessly swayed out of the way.

     “No,” the figure said more to itself than to Dhamrin. “He fits all the descriptions. It has to be him.”

     Dhamrin went for a stab to the heart but the figure caught his wrist and stopped the blade. The man’s hand was devoid of all natural warmth and his skin’s texture was unlike anything that Dhamrin had ever felt before, and even odder than that it appeared to be flowing.

     “Are you Dhamrin Ring?” J’heno Edic asked.

     Dhamrin tried to pull his hand free from J’heno’s grasp but it was no use.

     J’heno rolled his eyes and with a flick of his own wrist, he broke Dhamrin’s.

     The pain blossomed all at once and tears flooded from Dhamrin’s eyes as he fell to the ground screaming. He needed to take the ring off. He needed the pain to stop. Without putting any more thought into it Dhamrin tore the ring from his limp hand and immediately he felt its power fade.

     Dhamrin’s pupils switched from black to burning orange and his body spat out the wood splinters and mended itself, hand and all. Finally, Dhamrin’s canines elongated and sharpened to points. The Knight used his newfound speed to jump away from his attacker, landing a dozen feet away and baring his fangs ready to fight.

     J’heno mockingly applauded, a sickening smile resting upon his dead-eyed face. “Good show you darling little bloodsucker, but you misinterpret my visit. As much as I would love to spread your innards throughout the snow and listen to more of your lovely screams I’m afraid I have been sent here on a different sort of business.”

    “Why should I believe you!” Dhamrin hissed.

     “Before you continue to flap your idiotic Pureblood gums, please know that I have no qualms whatsoever with beating you until you comply. In fact, I would vastly prefer it to this demeaning display of kindness that I am currently offering you.”

     “H-how could you tell I was a Pureblood?”

     J’heno motioned to his mouth and his smile grew wider. “The Blut Hunters Special Legion exists for many purposes but one of the main reasons for its founding was to exterminate Purebloods like you,” J’heno relayed the information with no small amount of glee. “The teeth of a normal Blut are all sharp, but for a Pureblood, it is only the canines.”

     “Now,” J’heno continued. “Are you going to hear what I have to say, or am I going to have to make you listen?”