Blood of Darkness
In the dark world known as the Kingdom of Sangue, a widowed sorcerer king faces his greatest enemy- and his past- in order to save his only living son. Twenty years after the brutal murder of his wife and three of four children, Otztal Mortimer awaits the day he can gain retribution against their elusive enemy Electus De Solium, and find his lost child Erisha, hidden in the mortal world to ensure his survival. When Electus discovers that the child is still alive, it’s a race to see who can find him first. War breaks out and battles ensue as Electus tries to gain the winning hand by attacking Otztal’s palace, distracting him and giving her a fighting chance to locate Erisha first. Desperate to find and protect his son, Otztal recruits the help of an old vampire named Galen.
When it is discovered that Electus’ motives are more than they appear, the sorcerers of Sangue delve deeper into the old prophecies and learn that the Prophetess, who is not supposed to be born again for another two centuries, is alive and well; living by psychic coincidence in the same city as Erisha. Seeing an opportunity to finish what she began and achieve ultimate power in the form of visions of the future, Electus goes after both Erisha and the Prophetess Alisha, a simple mortal girl living a normal life- or so she thinks.
As the stakes rise, Galen finds it more and more difficult to protect the young mortals, especially when The Elemental Sorcerers are found, and have no idea who or what they are; or what their intended purposes happen to be. With epic battles, humanistic werewolves and Otztal’s quirky second-in-command Aida Mancini, Galen and Electus’ ultimate enemy take the mortals into hiding. But can it possibly be enough? As long as Electus still breathes, the risk of death is extreme- a lesson Otztal has spent a century and a half learning through personal experience. How much blood must be spilt before this tragic war ends?
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************************** Blood of Darkness, Beginning **************************
There are two kinds of people:
Those meant to be protected, and those meant to protect them no matter the cost.
Twenty Years Ago
I don’t know how to tell you this, but I must apologize from the deepest depths of my heart. I have given away our son. After your death came terrible turmoil, the threat of attack by forces grander than before was imminent. Out of our four children, only one has lived, and though he is only three years old I know that if caught again, they will show him no mercy, especially as he has already survived his assassination attempt once. They will come after him again.
He is doing fine. His likeness is akin to yours, and I will admit that it breaks my heart to look at him every day. Perhaps this is part of why I have given him to an adoptive couple looking for another son. But the selfishness of my decision was far outweighed by the threat. This couple has taken him far away from here. Far away from this pain, this emptiness that you and our two sons and daughter have left us with. He does not need to watch his father struggle to rebuild your empire from the rubbles the attack has left us with, struggling barely to survive with each new reported death toll. Almost a third of your hard working soldiers have died.
And everything inside of me has. I will miss our son terribly but I believe he is much better off if he does not know me, and I do not know where he is. So our enemies do not know where he is. It will keep me going just to know that the last bit of you is still out there, living well, living a full life away from pain in a world freer than anything he could experience here.
Now that I have you convinced, what will it take to convince myself?
Forever yours, Otztal Mortimer.
I rolled my head from side to side, attempting to ease the stiffness in my shoulders and the pain that traveled down my back. I could feel some of my old scars open and begin to bleed again ever so slightly, making me glad for the darkness of my uniform, though I did feel a vain need to put my jacket on over it.
As I was easing it on and over my shoulders, my lead captain walked in and asked, “Visions again, King Mortimer?”
I smiled wanly and told her, “I honestly don’t know how you guess these things, Aida.”
She laughed, but I could hear the sympathy underneath. She told me, “You only wear your jacket when you bleed, and you only bleed after you’ve had a horrible vision.”
“Don’t forget when I get stabbed.”
I laughed, “I bleed when I get stabbed, too.”
She sighed, put her hands on her hips and demanded, “Don’t tell me you plan to go out again today. You can’t.”
“I never said I was.”
“I have known you for twenty years now; you don’t need to say anything to me. I know you well enough by now.” She told me, pulling a chair over to me and gesturing at it angrily. I glared, but sat down. “I don’t know why you insist on going out alone every day. It’s too dangerous.”
“And you wouldn’t.” I muttered, scooting my chair over to my large oak desk, propping my elbows on top of it and burying my face in my hands. Even they seemed to ache. “Aida, I need you to increase security around the perimeters, send more soldiers out to scout and increase palace security as well. Deploy the troupes on call, if you have to.” The palace I referred to was not nearly as grand in size as the word inferred, but it did stand as royalty, I was its leader, and it was mine to protect. Because it protected more than a hundred thousand individuals housed within, a very large section of rural Italy and an entire hidden underworld from an unpredictable cult nearly equal in size but more vicious than one could imagine. We weren’t known to the public eye, but every vampire, werewolf, sorcerer, and underworld mortal were grateful for our protection whether they knew it or not.
“Are you paranoid or is there something I don’t know?” She asked suspiciously, knowing that with me, chances were it was more than just paranoia. I was not an overly emotional nor paranoid individual and I only made decisions based on fact. My reputation for paranoia came from the fact that I got a lot of my information from the visions that only I saw. Premonitions of a sort, if you will.
“A little bit of both, perhaps. Captain Mancini I need for you to get on this.” I told her. She knew I was serious when I referred to her by her surname or officer’s title so she just nodded seriously.
“Thank you.” I replied. She nodded and left. I stood up and armed myself well. I already had my dagger in its sheath attached to my hip, so I added my sword and boot knives, ensuring that they were strapped on tight.
Before leaving my office, a semi-plain room with a desk and every imaginable sword, dagger and blade tacked up on three of four walls along with the Sangue flag, I had to stop by my mirror to check my uniform. It was a daily ritual, obsessive perhaps, to smooth back my short black hair before putting my cover on, to analyze my seemingly frozen features and make sure I wasn’t bleeding anywhere visible, but most of all to stare myself in my sharp green eyes and see the lack of what I considered humanity and realize that I was a destroyed man with nothing to live for but my deceased wife’s legacy. Despite the somewhat youthful appearance of my face and its contradiction to more than a hundred vampiric years, I still reminded myself of an old, tired man. The tint of my mixed Italian and Spanish skin was mostly blood and sweat free, I looked fairly decent, so I turned from the mirror with a sigh.
I’d always wanted out. So did she. My Tancia, my love.
I placed my uniform hat on my head and stepped out, literally being run into by a young soldier and catching him before he flew to the ground. He was young, new, mortal, and about seven inches shorter than myself. I was nearly 6’4 in English units.
I stood him back up and looked at him expectantly as he gave me a grateful expression, caught his breath and finally said a grim, “Signore, King, we have a problem.”
“Why do I think you’re about to ruin my day?” I asked him, and he laughed.
He stood a bit nervously, wringing his hands together. I realized I’d probably only spoken to the man once or twice before, which indicated two things to me. He was the one who drew the short straw and had been forced to speak directly to me, and perhaps my better commanders and soldiers were busy with something else. Something that was no doubt not good. I gestured impatiently for him to speak. “There’s been an attack, King Mortimer.”
Those words forever would twist my gut in horrible pain, and make me feel as if my blood had run cold. There’s been an attack. That’s what everyone had said over and over from every angle after… well, no matter. I had no family to lose anymore, how horrible could this one be? “How bad is it young soldier?”
“We’re bringing in bodies.” He was still breathless, and I didn’t blame him. An even worse feeling sunk deep into the pit of my stomach, making it churn, and without saying anything in return, I just followed him as we hurried at a pace that was both fast and dreading.
“Oddio.” I muttered when I saw the clutter of dead, poisoned bodies. They were indeed being dragged inside one by one, by my soldiers and guards. Both myself and the young soldier began assisting. Every corpse that had been left on my door stoop so to say was either a woman or child. Poisoned, or their throats slit.
I heard Aida’s voice behind me, “This is bad, Mortimer.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” I responded without turning to face her, just threw a body up and over my shoulder, grabbed another and dragged them inside.
She took a hold of one and followed me. “No, Mortimer, this is really bad, you have no idea.”
“Then tell me what I don’t know, Mancini.”
“Some of these are city people. Regular mortals from the nearby villages.” This time I did turn to face her, she was paler than a ghost, more pale than her skin normally was. And I was sure the color had drained from my face as well, given that I felt a sudden wave of dizziness, or nausea I’m not sure, and I truly felt frozen. All but my racing heart. A few moments of silence passed before she asked softly, “She’s back again, isn’t she?”
I nodded and took a deep breath. I replied, “And she certainly has something to say.”
“Or an agenda, for sure.” Aida responded as we dragged the last body in together.
“Electus always has an agenda.” I muttered. We stood in silence for awhile.
I didn’t realize that I was just standing there staring at the bodies, biting my lip in an almost subconscious habit until I startled when Aida interrupted my train of thought to ask, “Are you ok Mortimer?”
I sighed, looked down and saw blood dripping off my arms from one of the last bodies I’d carried in. A pregnant mother. Throat sliced open and belly stabbed. I just bit my lip again, almost to the point of making it bleed, trying to hold back my emotions and finally managing to say evenly, “Aida, call together every combat soldier we have.”
“Consider it done.” She patted my arm and jogged off. I saw blood dripping down her arms and soaking the front of her uniform, too. These bodies were fresh; they’d hardly had time to cool. Only some of the smaller children and weaker forms had begun to stiffen.
I told the nearest officer, “Take care of these bodies. Mark them down, try and find out who they were first. Many are from the villages, so get together with our strategists and try and develop a cover story should we need one.” I added, “And we will.”
I left the blood and vomit filled room, the acidic stench of the poison was getting to me and I felt ready to vomit. I turned the corner and leaned against the wall with my forehead in my hands. I had assumed the hallway I was in was empty but upon sensing another presence nearby I looked up to find that I’d been followed by the young nervous soldier. “What’s your name, son?” I finally asked him.
“Rizzo.” He responded, still in that nervous tone. “Fabrizio Rizzo.”
“Rizzo, what’s on your mind?”
“I have studied the history of Sangue.” He told me. Sangue– Blood, in the languages of Latin and Italian- was the shortened and most often used title of my royal line, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Sangue.
“That’s hardly a surprise young man it’s part of your training.”
He grunted in frustration as if I’d missed his point entirely, and it was possible I had, so I just gestured for him to continue. His dark brown hair was short, but not short enough for combat protocol which made me aware of just how new he was, as did the lack of markings on his uniform. “She has been banned from Italy.”
“I’m aware of that too.” I leaned against the wall, folding my arms, impatiently waiting for him to get to the point.
“So this cannot be her attack, can it? Maybe a copy cat?”
“I assure you, Rizzo, this is her.”
“How can you be so sure King Mortimer?”
I sighed. “You have read the history thoroughly, have you not?”
“I just said.”
“Then that should be proof enough.” I added, “Get my sorcerers together and have them meet me in my office. Hurry.” I ordered. He ran off to do so. I sighed again, putting my hands over my face. I had two main sorcerers, a necessary supplement to Sangue, as I was unable to hold many sorceric duties alone. Leading this palace, the soldiers, guards, dealing with my new consistent visions and now this horrifying situation left very little room to put my own sorcery to good use as helpful as it was.
After a few deep breaths and an attempt to calm my racing heart of which had no affect, I quickly washed up and changed into a new blood-free uniform, then walked back up to my office and found my sorcerers waiting for me. The boy did work fast, and for that I was impressed.
The first sorcerer, a sorceric Light by the name of Lucio greeted me by saying, “A terrible tragedy, King Mortimer.”
“Tell me about it.” I snapped.
He responded with an apologetic shrug, “Just saying.”
I sighed and said, “I apologize. We’re all a little worked up.” I patted his shoulder and said to he and my Dark Light Antonio, “We need to find out why she is doing this. And how.”
Antonio, one who was skilled mostly in shadowed- or ‘Dark’- sorcery as was myself, said, “She could be doing it from anywhere, signore. She is known to spread out.”
“Well that is what I intend to find out.”
Lucio spoke up, “Have you seen nothing in your visions of this?”
I shook my head slowly, “Between just us three, my visions have been a little unclear lately.”
I heard Aida’s voice behind them say with an ornery tone as she stepped around and in front of me, “Or you don’t care to make sense of them.”
I laughed. “This stays between us four, then.”
“You knew I was there.”
She was right, and I couldn’t argue it so I asked regarding our enemy, “Is she using sorcery to evade us somehow?”
“She very well may be.” Antonio responded, ignoring Aida mostly out of irritation. He did not like her much. Or liked her too much, I could never quite tell. “She has plenty on staff.”
“At least a dozen to our three, King.” Lucio said.
“I suppose you would be.” Antonio said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped. I was a little aggravated as were we all, and Aida could sense this because she took a step between Antonio and I and smiled sweetly.
“Behave, boys, and we may get through this alive.”
We all had to laugh at her successful diffusion of this budding tension and I said, “First thing is first, we need to find out where she is. Not just her people, but she herself. Any traces of her whereabouts, Aida?”
She shook her head, “None. And we looked hard.” She added upon seeing my expression, “It’s not like we gave up Mortimer, we’re still looking.”
“I know.” I studied everyone. Lucio, buff, with his long black hair reminding me somewhat of a model on the cover of a novel, standing at attention but without ease, and Antonio with his Sicilian darkened skin and tall stance looking ready to beat anything down if he must. It was a similar trait in all Dark Lights- easily agitated and somewhat bitter. Short but tough little Aida was just yanking at her long pale blonde braid, studying it with her baby blue eyes. Then I realized she was picking dried, crusted blood out of it and I sighed. She looked up and the other two looked at me as well. I finally said what I was avoiding saying, knowing that I would get endless shit for it. “She wants bait.”
Aida let go of her braid and said immediately, “Well she isn’t getting you Mortimer so don’t even think about it.”
Lucio said, “That is not entirely a good idea.”
Antonio snapped, “It’s not like she’s willing to just talk things through.”
“She might be.” I protested vainly, folding my arms, already knowing I was on the losing end of our potential argument.
Aida snapped, harsher than I’d heard her snap before, “A psychopath like her just does not murder a hundred and twenty two mortal women and children as a request for conversation. Maybe a poisoned invitation to tea like before, but not this. She is looking for blood and she obviously didn’t feel as if she’s gathered enough from the slaughtered bodies downstairs.”
Lucio told me, “Aida’s right.”
I laughed, and I didn’t even mean to it just came out, and condescendingly at that. “I happen to know her a bit better.”
“You know the feel of her blade and acid against your skin you do not know just how psychologically fucked she is. I don’t think anyone does.” Aida responded a little meanly.
“Thanks for bringing that up.” I told her, as a stall from saying what I was really thinking. There was somebody who understood her, and that was something that brought this situation to an even more terrifying level. I finally asked them, “Do we know where her henchman is?”
Aida snapped, “Oddio, Mortimer. Must you bring up what I’ve been avoiding?”
I laughed again, this time not condescendingly but maybe just knowingly. “Antonio, go check the bodies for any signs of sorceric alteration or signature. Lucio, I need you to focus on strengthening the wards around the palace.” As they nodded and left the office, I turned to Aida, who was staring after Antonio in a not-so-absent way, and asked, “You want to fuck him, don’t you?”
Her eyes going wide in pretend shock she gasped and said, “Mortimer, how inappropriate!”
“Oh get off it.” I said with a grin. “You’re not one to talk of inappropriate. Come on, admit it. You won’t even look at Antonio when he’s in the room, for you that means something.”
“It sure does.” She glared at me. “It means that he annoys me and you annoy me more. Besides, when is the last time that you got laid, hm?” Before I responded in whatever sarcastic way I’d planned, she said, “I’m going to go clean up some dead bodies now, or something. Your soldiers will be waiting in ten.”
“I’ll be there in five.”
“Fantastic.” She left the room with mock anger and I shook my head in amusement.
************************************************************************************************************************ Character biographies and series/novel overviews are for entertainment purposes only. All characters, plots, novels and series are a figment of the author’s imagination and owned by copyright (c) Stacey Katheryn. Any likeness to any other situations or persons, whether fictitious, real, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.