With seven days to go here’s a taster from Demon Rising. You can read more updates at my website here. One of my favourite characters, Rondur, has been seduced by Emile before finding himself trapped by the new strigoi that stalk the land…
Take from chapter six, The Strigoi:
I lie back on the bed, flushed with heat and perspiration covering my body. I look at her naked just across from me; the curve of her soft toned belly; her skin pale and smooth to the touch; her neck that calls out to be kissed and caressed. She is also breathing hard, her hair tangled from the throws of passion and her eyes fixed on the ceiling.
“Who are you?” I ask, my fingers playing with her thighs, teasing her for more. They follows the red marks that run across her body and I want to know more.
She ignores the question, and for a second she lets the arousal continue drawn out from my touch. Then she rolls to one side and sits up, “Who are you?”
Her reply almost sounds cryptic, like a riddle that I am challenged to unlock, and I frown, “I told you…”
My words are interrupted as she turns to look at me and I know she can see through any façade I am putting on. My smile vanishes briefly, but then I shrug, “I told you who I am.”
“And I told you who I am.” She rises from the bed, walking over to where clothes lies on the floor by the fireplace. Silently she begins to slip them on, not the slightest of converse offered, and I watch her as if she is some angelic act and I am the audience.
I feels reluctant to leave it at this. This sensation is strange and it makes me almost vulnerable. Nevertheless I want more this mysterious presence drawing me in. She is of high class, yet wearing a worker’s clothes. She is beautiful, yet bears strikes and scars. She is dominant and strong-willed, yet broken and tormented. Inside I shake sense into myself. Take it for what it is; a few hours of physical attraction.
Rising, the words suddenly come from my mouth, “I look for my sister.”
I stop, unsure of why I have spoken. Naked, my exposed form warms by the fire and I try to understand what is going on. Instead, I start to dress.
She teases the answer from me. There is interest in her eyes but then again I ask myself is it really there? I am alone in this world and no-one shows fascination in who I am. Or maybe I do not let anyone in? Maybe I fear further loss? I clutch my trousers in my hands, tensely squeezing it tight.
“Its something I don’t talk about.”
She nods, doing the last buttons of her dress up, “It can be hard.”
Her words, her tone, makes me think she had to such a place also and I know she shared the emotions that torment inside me, the ones that I kept buried. Turning away from her I slide the tunic over my head, “She is my last family.”
Her footsteps are soft as she pads across the floor toward the door and I watch her slender curves moving away, “She was last seen in Mariad.” I almost blurted it out, as if to continue this threadbare conservation will keep her there, and to my surprise she stops at the name of the capital.
And then she opens the door and is gone.
I scold myself for opening up, for making myself so vulnerable. Finishing dressing, I tug on my boots so hard that I am sure my heel almost goes through the sole. Smoothing out my long coat, strapping on my belt so that it is tight around my waist, I tuck my rapier away. My horse will be waiting downstairs and I want nothing of this place. I have some money from the idiot who tried to assault me and now I can leave for Abendale and gamble it away. I am angry, feeling as though I have been taken advantage of, and it brings with it an itchy frustration that will not go away.
When I reaches the stairs heading to the bar I stop in my tracks, see three familiar men standing at the door. They are the three that passed me as I hid in the wood, each as grim looking as the next. They stand in the doorway, blocking out most of the light, as if surveying the room. Alarm bells often tell me when something is wrong, telling me to back away. Now they ring wildly. With a number of the bar’s patrons looking up to try and see what is going on I feel every inch of my skin begin to prickle. Those drinkers want to know what this sudden interruption is and I fear they will soon find out.
In a sudden rush the first one, round and sporting a few extra pounds, leaps forward in a blur. Literally a blur. His figure seems to move too fast for my eyes and within a split second he is at a drinker’s side. The man look down in shock horror as the attacker’s hand plunges into his chest. A soaked hand rips out and it clutches the still pulsating heart of the customer, a lump of meat for all to see. Crashing forward onto the table, blood flowing from his mouth, the corpse collapses. The heart is dropped on the floor like a discarded rag.
All in the room seem shocked, unbelieving of what just happened. Then chaos break out.
Tables are thrown aside as people fight for the back doors, some scramble past me to reach the upper rooms, and people are tossed aside in a battle for who is to survive.
And whilst the terror stricken drinkers run, the killers come on. Their figures morph and vanish, blurring into fast moving forms that appear alongside screaming innocents. The bearded giant grips one from behind, his two monstrous hands clamping the man’s arms, and pulls them backward with a crack that almost makes me throw up. How the man lives I cannot imagine but his scream is cut short as a quick motion his neck is twisted and snaps as if a chicken to the slaughter.
At the back the bar tender pulls an axe from behind the bar, a sharp hatchet sized weapon with a sturdy handle, kept ready for those who should threaten the bar’s residents. But he cannot even come out from behind his post before the close-shaved man appears. Almost too fast to see, the weapon is snatched from him and buried in his own head. The sight of the splitting skull and look of the tender’s last moments of shock are enough to kick me into action.
Taking the steps at least three at a time I look about to find a way out and realises there will be none. Whatever supernatural occurrence is happening downstairs their random attacks makes me think that they will kill all at a whim. I look back to see the grizzly one reach for a man who is climbing up at the bottom of the stairs and the stomach-turning sight of the man’s back being snapped like a twig makes me move faster. I push past another, as the screams and shouts erupts from below. Closer and closer they come and I know he is killing off those who are fleeing my way.
Side stepping into my room I quickly takes its key from my pocket and slid it into the lock quietly. I could sense the things presence outside, know he is looking to see if there are more. The smash of wood and screams of another tell me he has broken into one of the rooms. He is not going to stop and this place will be emptied. Softly, slowly as possible, I turn the mechanism and pray he will not hear the click that seems to ring out like an alarm bell.
I draw closer to the door, trying to listen out, to see if its thirst for death has been satisfied.
The sound is so quiet, the shrieks from below silent, and my heart pounds as I strain to listen for the slightest noise.
Wood erupts around me snapping me away from the room’s entrance. The fist that comes through shows a gash where the thick splinters have gouged it but as it grabs a sizeable chunk and rips it off the skin ripples and reforms. I watch wide-eyed as it heals itself right in front of me, all seeming so surreal that it cannot be true. It cannot be happening. Yet it is and now a second piece is torn away and the man grins and leers through the opening. It is a yellow toothed sneer that shows joy at my fear.
There is only one other way out. Across the other side of the room I swing open the wooden framed grimy glass to look out. Below is the cobbled floor and a little bit further is the well. If I can just leap across then maybe my head will not be split like a melon. But the jump is further than I would like.
Looking back once more I see the door is almost apart and one barge of its shoulder will throw the door asunder.
Clambering out, I offer a small prayer to whoever may be watching and throw myself forward.’